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Protein sharpens salmonella needle for attack
Date:5/15/2014

A tiny nanoscale syringe is Salmonella's weapon. Using this, the pathogen injects its molecular agents into the host cells and manipulates them to its own advantage. A team of scientists at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel demonstrate in their current publication in Cell Reports that a much investigated protein, which plays a role in Salmonella metabolism, is required to activate these needles and makes the replication and spread of Salmonella throughout the whole body possible.

The summer months are the prime time for Salmonella infections. Such an infection is caused by the ingestion of contaminated food, for instance ice cream or raw eggs, and can cause severe diarrhea. Salmonella can even cause life-threatening illnesses such as typhoid fever.

For several years, Prof. Dirk Bumann, from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, has been studying the infection mechanisms of Salmonella. Together with his team, he has discovered that the bacterial protein EIIAGlc is not only responsible for the uptake of nutrients, which was previously known, but also plays a central role in Salmonella colonizing the host organism.

New function discovered for well known protein

Salmonella possesses a sophisticated injection apparatus, the type III secretion system. With this molecular syringe, it injects toxins directly into the host cells. These toxins manipulate host cell processes to create optimal growth conditions for the bacteria in hiding. Unforeseen, Bumann and his team uncovered an important teammate in the infection process, the protein EIIAGlc. The protein was already known for its many functions in bacterial metabolism, such as in the uptake of sugars molecules.

The researchers' attention was attracted by the fact that when EIIAGlc is defectiv
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Contact: Katrin Bühler
Katrin.Buehler@unibas.ch
University of Basel
Source:Eurekalert  

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