• Regulatory networks of Neisseria meningitidis and their implications for pathogenesis
  • Golfieri, Giacomo <1985>


  • BIO/11 Biologia molecolare


  • Neisseria meningitidis, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, can adapt to different host niches during human infection. Both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulatory networks have been identified as playing a crucial role for bacterial stress responses and virulence. We investigated the N. meningitidis transcriptional landscape both by microarray and by RNA sequencing (RNAseq). Microarray analysis of N. meningitidis grown in the presence or absence of glucose allowed us to identify genes regulated by carbon source availability. In particular, we identified a glucose-responsive hexR-like transcriptional regulator in N. meningitidis. Deletion analysis showed that the hexR gene is accountable for a subset of the glucose-responsive regulation, and in vitro assays with the purified protein showed that HexR binds to the promoters of the central metabolic operons of meningococcus, by targeting a DNA region overlapping putative regulatory sequences. Our results indicate that HexR coordinates the central metabolism of meningococcus in response to the availability of glucose, and N. meningitidis strains lacking the hexR gene are also deficient in establishing successful bacteremia in a mouse model of infection. In parallel, RNAseq analysis of N. meningitidis cultured under standard or iron-limiting in vitro growth conditions allowed us to identify novel small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) potentially involved in N. meningitidis regulatory networks. Manual curation of the RNAseq data generated a list of 51 sRNAs, 8 of which were validated by Northern blotting. Deletion of selected sRNAs caused attenuation of N. meningitidis infection in a murine model, leading to the identification of the first sRNAs influencing meningococcal bacteraemia. Furthermore, we describe the identification and initial characterization of a novel sRNA unique to meningococcus, closely associated to genes relevant for the intracellular survival of pathogenic Neisseriae. Taken together, our findings could help unravel the regulation of N. meningitidis adaptation to the host environment and its implications for pathogenesis.


  • 2015-04-10


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Golfieri, Giacomo (2015) Regulatory networks of Neisseria meningitidis and their implications for pathogenesis, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare e molecolare , 27 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/7005.