Investigating the mechanisms of Moraxella catarrhalis resistance to oxidative stress

Nicchi, Sonia (2022) Investigating the mechanisms of Moraxella catarrhalis resistance to oxidative stress, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare e molecolare, 34 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10395.
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Moraxella catarrhalis (Mcat) represents a human pathogen implicated in debilitating diseases, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). One of the hallmarks of COPD is the excessive neutrophil oxidative stress mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Mcat shows a higher innate level of resistance to exogenous oxidative stress compared to the co-infecting human airways pathogens such as non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) but the underlying mechanisms are currently not well defined. In this thesis, we demonstrated that, differently from NTHi, Mcat was able to directly interfere with ROS production and ROS-related responses such as neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) and autophagy in differentiated neutrophilic-like dHL-60 cells and primary cells. The underlying mechanisms were shown to be phagocytosis/opsonins-independent but contact-dependent, due to the engagement of the immunosuppressive receptors. Indeed, we identified that through OmpCD porin, Mcat was able to engage Siglec inhibitory receptors suppressing ROS generation by the host cells. Furthermore, Mcat provided a safer niche for the co-infecting NTHi bacterium which was otherwise susceptible to the host antimicrobial arsenal. Subsequently, to deeply characterize the Mcat global transcriptional response to oxidative stress, an RNA-Seq experiment was performed on exponentially growing bacteria exposed to sublethal amounts of H2O2 or CuSO4, stimuli that the pathogens experienced once they are phagocytosed. We unraveled a previously unidentified common transcriptional program following H2O2 and CuSO4 exposure, demonstrating a similar defense mechanism to the stress conditions encountered in neutrophils. We ascertained new crucial factors for this pathogen response and established a novel in vivo Mcat infection model, using the invertebrate Galleria mellonella. Actually, we observed that deletion mutants of genes implicated in oxidative stress resistance exhibited reduced virulence. In conclusion, this work represents an important step in the understanding of Mcat innate resistance mechanisms to oxidative stress and further elucidate the virulence mechanisms during infection.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Nicchi, Sonia
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Moraxella catarrhalis, neutrophils, oxidative stress, immune evasion, phagocytosis, ROS, NET, autophagy, RNA-seq, hydrogen peroxide, copper, intracellular survival; Galleria mellonella
Data di discussione
4 Luglio 2022

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