Dissection of the Type IV Pilus Retraction Motor in Neisseria Gonorrhoeae
AuthorHockenberry, Alyson Marie
AdvisorSo, Magdalene Y.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractBacteria of the Neisseria are predominately commensal, though N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis are capable of causing disease. Both of these species often asymptomatically colonize humans, a trait reminiscent of their commensal cousins. The factors that shift the balance between asymptomatic carriage and disease are unknown. Pathogenic Neisseria use retractile surface structures called Type IV pili to coordinate community behavior and to initiate and sustain infection. Previously, the contributions of pilus retraction have been studied by deleting the pilus retraction motor, PilT. Recent findings suggest the speed and force exerted by pilus retraction is responsive to environmental cues. By examining several PilT mutants that maintain the ability to retract pili, I show retraction, per se, is not required for N. gonorrhoeae social interactions with bacteria or with human cells. Furthermore, Type IV pilus retraction by the commensal N. elongata affects the host cell differently than retraction by N. gonorrhoeae. These observations collectively suggest pilus retraction properties shape the host cell response to Neisseria colonization and could tip the balance of asymptomatic colonization to symptomatic disease.
Degree ProgramGraduate College