Speaker: Dr. Alison Criss
Affiliation: University of Virginia
Host: Dr. Scott Gray-Owen
Date & Time: September 8th - 4PM
Place: Medical Sciences Building, Room 4171

The obligate human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea, one of the most common and debilitating diseases worldwide. The clinical hallmark of acute gonorrhea is the recruitment of neutrophils to the site of infection.  Despite their abundance, neutrophils are unable to clear N. gonorrhoeae during human infection.  We seek to define the mechanisms used by N gonorrhoeae to resist killing by neutrophils, in hopes of identifying new targets for intervention in this highly drug-resistant bacterium. We have found that N. gonorrhoeae not only encodes defenses against neutrophil antimicrobial products, but also subverts the ability of neutrophils to generate reactive oxygen species, create phagolysosomes, and capture the bacteria in neutrophil extracellular traps. These findings reveal the complex ways N. gonorrhoeae uses to survive exposure to the human innate immune response, suggesting that N. gonorrhoeae exploits neutrophil recruitment to enhance survival and transmission within the human population.