- Neisseria meningitidis differentially controls host cell motility through PilC1 and PilC2 components of type IV pili (2009)
- Neisseria meningitidis is a strictly human pathogen that has two facets since asymptomatic carriage can unpredictably turn into fulminant forms of infection. Meningococcal pathogenesis relies on the ability of the bacteria to break host epithelial or endothelial cellular barriers. Highly restrictive, yet poorly understood, mechanisms allow meningococcal adhesion to cells of only human origin. Adhesion of encapsulated and virulent meningococci to human cells relies on the expression of bacterial type four pili (T4P) that trigger intense host cell signalling. Among the components of the meningococcal T4P, the concomitantly expressed PilC1 and PilC2 proteins regulate pili exposure at the bacterial surface, and until now, PilC1 was believed to be specifically responsible for T4P-mediated meningococcal adhesion to human cells. Contrary to previous reports, we show that, like PilC1, the meningococcal PilC2 component is capable of mediating adhesion to human ME180 epithelial cells, with cortical plaque formation and F-actin condensation. However, PilC1 and PilC2 promote different effects on infected cells. Cellular tracking analysis revealed that PilC1-expressing meningococci caused a severe reduction in the motility of infected cells, which was not the case when cells were infected with PilC2-expressing strains. The amount of both total and phosphorylated forms of EGFR was dramatically reduced in cells upon PilC1-mediated infection. In contrast, PilC2-mediated infection did not notably affect the EGFR pathway, and these specificities were shared among unrelated meningococcal strains. These results suggest that meningococci have evolved a highly discriminative tool for differential adhesion in specific microenvironments where different cell types are present. Moreover, the fine-tuning of cellular control through the combined action of two concomitantly expressed, but distinctly regulated, T4P-associated variants of the same molecule (i.e. PilC1 and PilC2) brings a new model to light for the analysis of the interplay between pathogenic bacteria and human host cells.
- A large-scale chemical modification screen identifies design rules to generate siRNAs with high activity, high stability and low toxicity (2009)
- The use of chemically synthesized short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) is currently the method of choice to manipulate gene expression in mammalian cell culture, yet improvements of siRNA design is expectably required for successful application in vivo. Several studies have aimed at improving siRNA performance through the introduction of chemical modifications but a direct comparison of these results is difficult. We have directly compared the effect of 21 types of chemical modifications on siRNA activity and toxicity in a total of 2160 siRNA duplexes. We demonstrate that siRNA activity is primarily enhanced by favouring the incorporation of the intended antisense strand during RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) loading by modulation of siRNA thermodynamic asymmetry and engineering of siRNA 3-overhangs. Collectively, our results provide unique insights into the tolerance for chemical modifications and provide a simple guide to successful chemical modification of siRNAs with improved activity, stability and low toxicity.