Pathogenic E. coli in unconventional ways
In some cases, bacteria such as Escherichia coli produce toxins, but in others they do not. The University of Würzburg is investigating the role that transfer RNA plays in this. Escherichia coli is considered a harmless germ that can colonize the intestines of humans and many animals. In addition, however, there are a number of pathogens within this bacterial species. This also applies to EHEC, which has repeatedly made headlines in recent times. Other Escherichia coli variants are able to cause urinary tract infections, blood poisoning or neonatal meningitis. What the disease-causing representatives of E. coli have in common is that they carry additional genes that code for disease-causing factors. These so-called pathogenicity factors include bacterial toxins (toxins), adhesion factors or capsules. However, the pathogenicity factors synthesized by these E. coli bacteria are not constantly being formed, explains Prof. Dr. Jörg Hacker, head of the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology at the University of Würzburg. Rather, there are a number of environmental signals that "tell" the bacterium whether the corresponding factors should be formed or not.
A working group headed by Prof. Hacker has shown that the bacteria also take unconventional paths when transmitting signals for the formation of pathogenicity factors. In Würzburg, for example, a small RNA molecule that otherwise transports amino acids, a so-called "transfer RNA" (tRNA), was identified as an important link in the signal transmission chain in pathogenic E.coli identified. As part of a project funded by the German Research Foundation, it is now being investigated how this transfer RNA interferes with the synthesis of pathogenicity factors. In addition, the question should be answered as to whether disease-causing bacteria can be made "harmless" by suppressing this transfer RNA. Overall, the scientists at the University of Würzburg expect this project to provide new insights into how Escherichia coli bacteria cause diseases and possible new ones Combat Strategies.
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