Bacterium makes its own way into a cell

Dec. 13, 2006 at 8:31 AM

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists believe they have determined how large bacteria gain entry into intestinal epithelial cells that usually don't admit such big particles.

Yale University researchers say they are beginning to answer some basic questions about the unusually large Campylobacter jejuni, the leading cause of bacterial food-borne illness in the United States and one of the most common causes of diarrhea worldwide. A rare but serious complication of C. jejuni infection is the triggering of the autoimmune disorder, Guillain-Barré paralysis.

Robert Watson and Jorge Galan of the Yale University School of Medicine discovered C. jejuni enters via a cell's regular endocytic pathway, but quickly exits, creating its own network of intracellular "hideouts." Those C. jejuni-filled vacuoles then make their own way toward the nucleus, taking up strategic positions near the cell's Golgi apparatus -- an organelle that adds sacchandes to glycoproteins.

The researchers detailed the results of their complex research in San Diego this week during the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology.

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