Saturday, 29 July 2017

Bacterial pathogens interact to cause disease

New methodology allowed researchers to more easily investigate mechanisms of infection and provide new insight into how pathogens can work together to cause disease. Using the new tool, researchers confirmed a safer model for study of Brucella species, which cause a potentially debilitating infectious disease in humans and cattle.

Brucellosis is an infectious disease of livestock that may be transmitted to farm workers or consumers of unpasteurized dairy products. Easy to spread and hard to detect, the bacteria that cause the illness, Brucella species, are considered potential bioterror weapons. Yet, precisely because Brucella species are so dangerous to handle, research on this important disease-causing agent, or pathogen, has lagged behind that of other infectious diseases.

Using an innovative method they developed to study the infectious process, investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) established a safer way to study Brucella. In an early test of the model, the research team observed a surprising and previously undocumented interaction during the infectious process. The presence of another pathogen appeared to improve the infectious potential of Brucella.

The researchers' new technique creates the light-emitting bacteria by introducing genes for fluorescent proteins into their genomes. The concept itself is not new, but the genetic "tool kit" developed by Kirby and Kang greatly streamlines the process by using easy-to-manipulate genes called transposons -- sometimes called jumping genes -- to quickly and safely label the bacteria.

Read more:

Yoon-Suk Kang, James E. Kirby. Promotion and Rescue of Intracellular Brucella neotomae Replication during Coinfection with Legionella pneumophila. Infection and Immunity, 2017; 85 (5): e00991-16 DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00991-16

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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