Expression of the Opc protein correlates with invasion of epithelial and endothelial cells by Neisseria meningitidis.
Virji M., Makepeace K., Ferguson DJ., Achtman M., Sarkari J., Moxon ER.
Whereas capsulate strains of Neisseria meningitidis are dependent on pili for adhesion to human endothelial and epithelial cells, strains which lacked assembled pili and were partially capsule-deficient adhered to and invaded human endothelial and epithelial cells if they expressed the Opc protein. Bacteria expressing low or undetectable levels of Opc protein failed to adhere to or invade eukaryotic cells. In addition, the presence of OpaAC751 protein on the surface of bacteria did not increase bacterial interactions with host cells. Association of Opc-expressing bacteria was inhibited by antibodies against Opc. Invasion was dependent on the host-cell cytoskeletal activity and was inhibited by cytochalasin D. In some cells, infected at the apical surface, bacteria emerging from basal surface were detected by electron microscopy. Opc is found in diverse meningococci and may represent a common virulence factor which facilitates adherence and invasion by these bacteria.