Sphingolipid-enriched membrane microdomains contribute to a variety of cellular processes, including signal transduction and vesicle trafficking. Interestingly, a number of pathogens exploit the endocytic properties of Sphingolipid-enriched membrane microdomains to enter host cells. The significance of sphingolipid-enriched membrane microdomains in N. meningtidis pathogenesis is so far unknown. Initial experiments of our group with a serogroup B isolate are highly indicative for a role for the acid sphingomyelinase also in the N. meningitidis entry process suggesting that ceramide and ceramide-enriched membrane platforms, generated upon SMase activation play a significant role in meningococcal uptake, which is entirely novel for this species.
In this new project we seek to analyse the role of lipid-rich microdomains and phospholipid dynamics during the process of meningococcal adhesion and invasion. Our findings may contribute to a more detailed understanding of how changes in the host membrane structures triggered by this bacterial infection may occur.
This project currently receives funding from DFG and is part of the newly established Forschergruppe FOR2123 (Sprecherin: S. Schneider-Schaulies;).
New funding - 2014-2016
FOR 2123 Sphingolipid dynamics in infection control
Untersuchung zur funktionellen Relevanz von Sphingomyelinasen und Ceramiden in der Pathogenese der Meningokokkeninfektion“ (SCHU 2394/2-1; Teilprojekt P03 im Rahmen der Forschergruppe FOR 2123 „Sphingolipids in infection control“)