Food poisoning caused by the bacteria enterohemorrhagic Eschericia coli (EHEC) O157:H7A results in severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea.
In the very young and old it can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) -- a disease characterized by anemia and kidney failure. A new study by Jorge Girón and colleagues from the University of Arizona, Tucson, has provided new insight into the mechanisms by which EHEC colonize the intestines, which is essential if strategies to prevent infection by this bacteria are to be developed.
The authors determined that EHEC O157:H7 make a number of proteins that come together to form a structure known as an adhesive type IV pilus, which they termed the hemorrhagic coli pilus (HCP). HCP were shown to enable EHEC O157:H7 to adhere to human intestinal epithelial cells in vitro.
Furthermore, individuals with HUS, but not individuals who were healthy, were found to mount an immune response to the HCP component Hcp4, indicating that HCPs are produced by the bacteria during infection with EHEC O157:H7.
Article: Intestinal adherence associated with type IV pili of enterohemorrhagic Eschericia coli O157:H7
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