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Proteins from gut microbes may inhibit salmonella

By Ryan Maass
Proteins from gut microbes may inhibit salmonella
UCI researchers say beneficial bacteria may be used to fight salmonella and E. coli infections. Photo by skeeze/Pixabay

IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Special proteins secreted by gut microbes may inhibit the bacteria known to cause salmonella, researchers at the University of California, Irvine suggest.

Salmonella is a disease characterized by intestinal inflammation, abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the illness affects 1.2 million people in the United States. While few treatments are available, UCI researchers say their latest findings may lead the development of new approaches.

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In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists noted proteins known as microcins play a significant role in blocking illness-causing bacteria in inflamed intestines.

"Although an in vivo role for microcins has been suggested for 40 years, it has never been convincingly demonstrated," study author Manuela Raffatellu said in a press release. "We hypothesize that their role was missed because, as our data indicate, microcins do not seem effective in noninflamed intestines. In contrast, we show that in an inflamed intestine, microcins help a probiotic strain limit the growth of some harmful bacteria."

In the study, Raffatellu's team demonstrated that a probiotic strain of E. coli known as Nissle 1917 uses microcins to block salmonella and an invasive form of E. coli. The team's next step will be examining how purified microcins can be used as targeted antibiotics.

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