Dept. of Microbiology, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
Disseminated gonococcal infection is a serious complication caused by the bacteremic spread of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonococci rapidly invade epithelial and endothelial cells via the scavenger receptor SREC. We could recently demonstrate, that SREC-dependent invasion requires intact detergent-resistant microdomains, caveolin 1 phosphorylation and the involvement of several signaling molecules, including neutral sphingomyelinase 2 (NSMase2), but not of acid SMase (ASMase).
Published data already suggested ASMase as important enzyme involved in the interaction of gonococci with epithelial and phagocytic cells during acute infection. The major objective of the current project therefore is to understand the role of sphingolipids and NSMases in the course of bacterial invasion during disseminated gonococccal infection.