Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also referred to as gonococcus (singular) or gonococci (plural), is a Gram-negative bacterial species that is marked by its coffee bean-shape. It is a fastidious species since it requires nutrient supplementation for it to grow in laboratory cultures. In particular, it requires chocolate agar and carbon dioxide to grow. This species typically occurs in pairs (diplococci).
Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the causative agent of gonorrhoea, a sexually transmitted infection characterized by a purulent inflammation of the urethra or the vagina. Thus, it is commonly transmitted by sexual contact.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae possess several type IV pili that allow them to adhere and move along surfaces. These pili help the bacteria to move by dragging the cell forward. Apart from motility, some pili (i.e. Pil Q and Pil T) are involved in the acquisition and the spread of new genes, which may confer them antibiotic resistance.
Another structure found on their cell surface is a protein called Opa. Opa proteins are capable of binding to receptors on the host's immune cells and therefore help evade an immune response. Furthermore, N. gonorrhoeae are capable of antigenic variation, which means they can alter their antigenic determinants (such as Opa proteins and Type IV pili).
- Domain: Bacteria
- Phylum: Proteobacteria
- Class: Betaproteobacteria
- Order: Neisseriales
- Family: Neisseriaceae
- Genus: Neisseria
- Species: N. gonorrhoeae