Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Host genetics plays unexpected role in dance with pathogen

Date:
February 17, 2011
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
A new study suggests that differences in the host's genetics can make a big difference in susceptibility bacterial infection. Researchers show that the virulence of a strain of Yersinia pestis, notable for causing bubonic plague, varies drastically among mice strains with different genetic backgrounds. These findings carry major implications for vaccine development.

A new study suggests that differences in the host's genetics can make a big difference in susceptibility bacterial infection. In a study in the February 2011 Infection and Immunity, Virginia L. Miller of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her collaborators show that the virulence of a strain of Yersinia pestis, notable for causing bubonic plague, varies drastically among mice strains with different genetic backgrounds. These findings carry major implications for vaccine development, says Miller.

Related Articles


A number of earlier reports dating back 20 years had suggested that removing this bacterium's capsule--an envelope of a loose protein gel surrounding the bacterial cell -- had no effect on its virulence. Then, Miller and her collaborators performed the same experiment, with opposite results.

Searching for an explanation for the conflicting results, the only difference in the experiments that Miller could find was in the strains of mice, and so it occurred to her that their susceptibilities might be different. Her team tested that hypothesis by infecting two different strains of mice with Y. pestis in which the capsule had been removed. In one strain, the bacteria were nearly normally virulent, while in the other, they were relatively impotent.

This research made sense of the earlier experiments, "while highlighting the importance that host genetics can play in the dance between host and pathogen, and how it can influence the phenotype of a potential virulence factor," says Miller.

Moreover, these findings "demonstrate for the first time that the capsule is a Y. pestis virulence factor in a mouse infection model," says James Bliska of Stony Brook University, New York. "It had already been shown that [the capsule] is important for flea transmission, and therefore it was clear why [the capsule] was conserved in Y. pestis."

The research is critical for the development of a vaccine against both bubonic and pneumonic plague, also caused by Y. pestis, because considerable effort has been invested in establishing Caf1, an antigen within the capsule, as a protective antigen in vaccines against plague. But all the papers showing that removing the capsule had no effect on virulence had gradually undermined the case for using the capsule antigen in a vaccine, when it had been a major target for vaccine development. But now, "This paper may revive hope that Caf1 in conjunction with other antigens would be a useful component of a multivalent vaccine," says Eric Krukonis of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Developing such vaccines is important because "Y. pestis is still a major threat to humans, due to endemic pockets of Y. pestis-infected animals and fleas and potential bioterrorism use," Miller and her collaborators note. "A greater understanding of the requirement of the capsule for Y. pestis to cause disease is required. It is particularly important to investigate if natural capsule mutants are able to cause disease and in what contexts, as the current vaccine potentially would not protect against these strains."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. H. Weening, J. S. Cathelyn, G. Kaufman, M. B. Lawrenz, P. Price, W. E. Goldman, V. L. Miller. The Dependence of the Yersinia pestis Capsule on Pathogenesis Is Influenced by the Mouse Background. Infection and Immunity, 2010; 79 (2): 644 DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00981-10

Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Host genetics plays unexpected role in dance with pathogen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110216120619.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2011, February 17). Host genetics plays unexpected role in dance with pathogen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110216120619.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Host genetics plays unexpected role in dance with pathogen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110216120619.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins