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A Rare Mutation in SPLUNC1 Affects Bacterial Adherence and Invasion in Meningococcal Disease


Abstract

BACKGROUND

Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) is a nasopharyngeal commensal carried by healthy individuals. However, invasive infections occurs in a minority of individuals, with devastating consequences. There is evidence that common polymorphisms are associated with invasive meningococcal disease (IMD), but the contributions of rare variants other than those in the complement system have not been determined.

METHODS

We identified familial cases of IMD in the UK meningococcal disease study and the European Union Life-Threatening Infectious Disease Study. Candidate genetic variants were identified by whole-exome sequencing of 2 patients with familial IMD. Candidate variants were further validated by in vitro assays.

RESULTS

Exomes of 2 siblings with IMD identified a novel heterozygous missense mutation in BPIFA1/SPLUNC1. Sequencing of 186 other nonfamilial cases identified another unrelated IMD patient with the same mutation. SPLUNC1 is an innate immune defense protein expressed in the nasopharyngeal epithelia; however, its role in invasive infections is unknown. In vitro assays demonstrated that recombinant SPLUNC1 protein inhibits biofilm formation by Nm, and impedes Nm adhesion and invasion of human airway cells. The dominant negative mutant recombinant SPLUNC1 (p.G22E) showed reduced antibiofilm activity, increased meningococcal adhesion, and increased invasion of cells, compared with wild-type SPLUNC1.

CONCLUSIONS

A mutation in SPLUNC1 affecting mucosal attachment, biofilm formation, and invasion of mucosal epithelial cells is a new genetic cause of meningococcal disease.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) is a nasopharyngeal commensal carried by healthy individuals. However, invasive infections occurs in a minority of individuals, with devastating consequences. There is evidence that common polymorphisms are associated with invasive meningococcal disease (IMD), but the contributions of rare variants other than those in the complement system have not been determined.

METHODS

We identified familial cases of IMD in the UK meningococcal disease study and the European Union Life-Threatening Infectious Disease Study. Candidate genetic variants were identified by whole-exome sequencing of 2 patients with familial IMD. Candidate variants were further validated by in vitro assays.

RESULTS

Exomes of 2 siblings with IMD identified a novel heterozygous missense mutation in BPIFA1/SPLUNC1. Sequencing of 186 other nonfamilial cases identified another unrelated IMD patient with the same mutation. SPLUNC1 is an innate immune defense protein expressed in the nasopharyngeal epithelia; however, its role in invasive infections is unknown. In vitro assays demonstrated that recombinant SPLUNC1 protein inhibits biofilm formation by Nm, and impedes Nm adhesion and invasion of human airway cells. The dominant negative mutant recombinant SPLUNC1 (p.G22E) showed reduced antibiofilm activity, increased meningococcal adhesion, and increased invasion of cells, compared with wild-type SPLUNC1.

CONCLUSIONS

A mutation in SPLUNC1 affecting mucosal attachment, biofilm formation, and invasion of mucosal epithelial cells is a new genetic cause of meningococcal disease.

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Additional indexing

Contributors:European Union Childhood Life-Threatening Infectious Disease Study (EUCLIDS) Consortium
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:6 May 2020
Deposited On:06 Feb 2020 14:52
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 12:40
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1058-4838
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz600
PubMed ID:31504285

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