Campylobacter surface-layers (S-layers) and immune evasion.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Many pathogenic bacteria have evolved mechanisms for evading host immune systems. One evasion mechanism is manifest by the surface layer (S-layer), a paracrystalline protein structure composed of S-layer proteins (SLPs). The S-layer, possessed by 2 Campylobacter species (C. fetus and C. rectus), is external to the bacterial outer membrane and can have multiple functions in immune avoidance. C. fetus is a pathogen of ungulates and immunocompromised humans, in whom it causes disseminated bloodstream disease. In C. fetus, the S-layer is required for dissemination and is involved in 2 mechanisms of evasion. First, the S-layer confers resistance to complement-mediated killing in non-immune serum by preventing the binding of complement factor C3b to the C. fetus cell surface. S-layer expressing C. fetus strains remain susceptible to complement-independent killing, utilizing opsonic antibodies directed against the S-layer. However, C. fetus has also evolved a mechanism for avoiding antibody-mediated killing by high-frequency antigenic variation of SLPs. Antigenic variation is accomplished by complex DNA inversion events involving a family of multiple SLP-encoding genes and a single SLP promoter. Inversion events result in the expression of antigenically variant S-layers, which require distinct antibody responses for killing. C. rectus is implicated in the pathogenesis of periodontal disease and also possesses an S-layer that appears to be involved in evading the human system. Although studied less extensively than its C. fetus counterpart, the C. rectus S-layer appears to confer resistance to complement-mediated killing and to cause the down-regulation of proinflammatory cytokines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-53
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of periodontology / the American Academy of Periodontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Campylobacter surface-layers (S-layers) and immune evasion.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this