Mobile DNA in the pathogenic Neisseria

Kyle P. Obergfell, H. Steven Seifert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The genus Neisseria contains two pathogenic species of prominant public health concern: Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis. These pathogens display a notable ability to undergo frequent programmed recombination events. The recombination-mediated pathways of transformation and pilin antigenic variation in the Neisseria are well-studied systems that are critical for pathogenesis. Here we will detail the conserved and unique aspects of transformation and antigenic variation in the Neisseria. Transformation will be followed from initial DNA binding through recombination into the genome with consideration to the factors necessary at each step. Additional focus is paid to the unique type IV secretion system that mediates donation of transforming DNA in the pathogenic Neisseria. The pilin antigenic variation system uses programmed recombinations to alter a major surface determinant, which allows immune avoidance and promotes infection. We discuss the trans- and cis- acting factors which facilitate pilin antigenic variation and present the current understanding of the mechanisms involved in the process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberMDNA3-0015-2014
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Genetics
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology
  • Ecology


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