Specific Binding to Differentially Expressed Human Carcinoembryonic Antigen-Related Cell Adhesion Molecules Determines the Outcome ofNeisseria gonorrhoeaeInfections along the Female Reproductive Tract Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • ABSTRACTThe gonococcal Opa proteins are an antigenically variable family of surface adhesins that bind human carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 1 (CEACAM1), CEACAM3, CEACAM5, and/or CEACAM6, cell surface glycoproteins that are differentially expressed on a broad spectrum of human cells and tissues. While they are presumed to be important for infection, the significance of various Opa-CEACAM-mediated cellular interactions in the context of the genital tract has remained unclear. Here, we observed that CEACAM1 and CEACAM5 are differentially expressed on epithelia lining the upper and lower portions of the human female genital tract, respectively. Using transgenic mouse lines expressing human CEACAMs in a manner that reflects this differential pattern, we considered the impact of Opa-CEACAM interactions during uncomplicated lower genital tract infections versus during pelvic inflammatory disease. Our results demonstrate that Opa-CEACAM5 binding on vaginal epithelia facilitates the long-term colonization of the lower genital tract, while Opa protein binding to CEACAM1 on uterine epithelia enhances gonococcal association and penetration into these tissues. While these Opa-dependent interactions with CEACAM-expressing epithelial surfaces promote infection, Opa binding by neutrophil-expressed CEACAMs counterbalances this by facilitating more effective gonococcal clearance. Furthermore, during uterine infections, CEACAM-dependent tissue invasion aggravates disease pathology by increasing the acute inflammatory response. Together, these findings demonstrate that the outcome of infection is determined by both the cell type-specific expression of human CEACAMs and the CEACAM specificity of the Opa variants expressed, which combine to determine the level of gonococcal association with the genital mucosa versus the extent of CEACAM-dependent inflammation and gonococcal clearance by neutrophils.


  • Islam, Epshita A
  • Anipindi, Varun C
  • Francis, Ian
  • Shaik-Dasthagirisaheb, Yazdan
  • Xu, Stacey
  • Leung, Nelly
  • Sintsova, Anna
  • Amin, Mohsen
  • Kaushic, Charu
  • Wetzler, Lee M
  • Gray-Owen, Scott D

publication date

  • May 14, 2018

has subject area