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Neisseria gonorrhoeae is an important sexually transmitted pathogen and a major cofactor in HIV-1 infection. This organism uses different mechanisms to infect male and female genital tract epithelia. Receptor-mediated endocytosis of N. gonorrhoeae is the principle mechanism of entry into male urethral epithelial cells. Infection in men leads to a pronounced inflammatory response. In contrast, N. gonorrhoeae infection in women induces ruffling of the cervical epithelia, allowing a macropinocytic mechanism of entry. Infection in women is frequently asymptomatic, suggesting suppression of the inflammatory response. N. gonorrhoeae-induced membrane ruffling and inflammation suppression are consistent with the ability of this bacterium to enter cervical epithelial cells, in vitro and in vivo, by interaction with complement receptor 3 (CR3), a receptor that does not trigger an inflammatory response. This receptor is present on cervical epithelial cells but not on male urogenital tract epithelia. N. gonorrhoeae engagement of CR3 initiates a unique mechanism of bacterial-induced membrane ruffling and internalization. These studies explain why the pathology of N. gonorrhoeae infection differs between males and females. Additionally, the observation that this receptor is present on cervical epithelia may provide insight into the pathogenesis of other sexually transmitted pathogens