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Will this be the end of hamburger disease?
Date:11/29/2010

t O157:H7 does in fact thrive in the bovine intestine. Once this was established, they went on to determine why these particular bacteria find the cow intestine such a great place to live. They found that O157:H7 is unusual because it can forage nitrogen from ethanolamine, a chemical present in the cow's intestine. Because other bacteria cannot process ethanolamine, O157:H7 has this source of nutrition to itself. "The ability of O157:H7 to use ethanolamine as a source of nitrogen gives it the nutritional and competitive advantage to survive," says Harel.

It is all in the genes

The final step for Harel and colleagues was to determine how O157:H7 was able to process the ethanolamine so it could be used as a nitrogen source. Genetic analyses revealed that 0157:H7 had specific genes that allowed it to do so.

"We now know that this bacteria has evolved a genetic program that allows it to process ethanolamine and therefore outcompete its neighbours and survive and multiply in the intestine," says Harel. "This new-found knowledge will help us select appropriate feed or probiotics in an attempt to eliminate the food source of this contaminating bug. This in turn, should limit the spread of this bug into the food chain."

About hamburger disease:

Hamburger disease, otherwise known as haemolytic uremic syndrome, can occur after a person has been infected with the E. coli O157:H7. It can result in the destruction of cells that cause clotting of the blood and red blood cells. Kidney failure may result due to the damage of the small blood vessels and tubules in the kidneys. It usually affects children between the ages of 1 and 10 years, but may also occur in adults. HUS affects 2 to 4 people per 100 000 and occurs all over the world.


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Contact: Julie Gazaille
j.cordeau-gazaille@umontreal.ca
514-343-6796
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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