Bacteria enter via mucus-making gut cells

Cells making slippery mucus provide a sticking point for disease-causing bacteria in the gut, according to a study published on October 3 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

A foodborne bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes (sometimes found in stinky cheeses) invades the body by binding to a protein called E-cadherin. However, as E-cadherin is normally buried within the junctions between gut cells, and is thus hidden from the , it's not clear how the bug gains traction.

In response to Listeria invasion, specialized gut cells called goblet cells produce in an attempt to flush the bacteria away. Scientists in France now find that the reorganization required for goblet cells to expel their slippery product also exposes E-cadherin on their surface, allowing Listeria to grab hold and cause systemic infection.

More information: Nikitas, G., et al. 2011. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20110560

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A sticky solution for identifying effective probiotics

Nov 24, 2009

Scientists have crystallised a protein that may help gut bacteria bind to the gastrointestinal tract. The protein could be used by probiotic producers to identify strains that are likely to be of real benefit to people.

Recommended for you

Where Ebola battles are won

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Four hospitals that are home to advanced biocontainment facilities have become America's ground zero in the treatment of Ebola patients.

Depression tied to worse lumbar spine surgery outcomes

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Depressive symptoms are associated with poorer long-term outcome in patients undergoing surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), according to research published in the Oct. 1 issue of The Sp ...

Ebola death toll edging to 4,900 mark: WHO

6 hours ago

The death toll in the world's worst-ever Ebola outbreak has edged closer to 4,900, while almost 10,000 people have now been infected, new figures from the World Health Organization showed Wednesday.

US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations

7 hours ago

U.S. authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. That includes returning American aid workers, federal health employees ...

User comments