The pilus and porin of Neisseria gonorrhoeae cooperatively induce Ca2+ transients in infected epithelial cells

Patricia Ayala, J. Scott Wilbur, Lee M. Wetzler, John A. Tainer, Aurelie Snyder, Magdalene So

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purified pili and porin from Neisseria quickly mobilize calcium (Ca2+) stores in monocytes and epithelial cells, ultimately influencing host cell viability as well as bacterial intracellular survival. Here, we examined the Ca2+ transients induced in human epithelial cells during infection by live, piliated N. gonorrhoeae. Porin induced an influx of Ca2+ from the extracellular medium less than 60 s post infection. The porin-induced transient is followed by a pilus-induced release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores. The timing of these events is similar to that observed using purified proteins. Interestingly, the porin-induced Ca2+ flux is required for the pilus-induced transient, indicating that the pilus-induced Ca2+ release is, itself, Ca2+ dependent. Several lines of evidence indicate that porin is present on pili. Moreover, pilus retraction strongly influences the porin- and pilus-induced Ca2+ fluxes. These and other results strongly suggest that the pilus and porin cooperate to modulate calcium signalling in epithelial cells, and propose a model to explain how N. gonorrhoeae triggers Ca2+ transients in the initial stages of pilus-mediated attachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1736-1748
Number of pages13
JournalCellular Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Virology


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