The bacteria that is responsible for the life-threatening cholera disease screw themselves into your body to clamp and infect their victim more effectively.
The researchers at Princeton University discovered the protein that allows the bacterium Vibrio cholerae to curve into a corkscrew shape and clamp itself on the gut. The process of quorum sensing allowed the bacteria to coordinate the massive bacterial infection.
[caption id="attachment_69745" align="aligncenter" width="700"]
Thomas Bartlett, Department of Molecular Biology[/caption]
Because the inside of the gut has protective mucus linings, the corkscrew shape allowed the V. cholerae
cells to easily move through them and infect the host effectively. On the other hand, the straight V. cholerae
cells could not.
If the shape is vital to the bacteria's ability to infect, treatments for cholera could be developed to prevent the shape-shifting to occur in the first place, according to author Zemer Gitai, Princeton's Edwin Grant Conklin Professor of Biology and professor of molecular biology.
"We know that if V. cholerae
can't be curved, it can't make animals as sick. That suggests that if we can prevent them from becoming curved, that would limit their ability to make people sick. How to do that still needs to be figured out."
The researchers discovered that filaments of CrvA assembly at one side of the cell prevents growth on that side, while the other side grows faster which results to the curved shape.
"We have so many tools to study DNA and genes, but we haven't had that many tools to study how bacteria manipulate the membranes and cell walls at the subcellular level," said Nina Salama, a principle investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "Basically, it will allow other questions to be answered in other systems."
The study is published in Cell
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