New study sheds light on the mechanism behind O157:H7 strain of Escherichia coli bacterium causing infection and thereby manipulating the host immune response.
Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, conducted the study.
The bacterium secretes a protein called NleH1 that directs the host immune enzyme IKK-beta to alter specific immune responses.
This process not only helps the bacterium evade elimination by the immune system, it also works to prolong the survival of the infected host, enabling the bacterium to persist and ultimately spread to unaffected individuals.
This finely balanced mechanism, observed in both laboratory and animal models, could be relevant to other pathogens involved in food borne diseases.
E. coli O157:H7 can cause severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps and, in rare cases, death.
Human cases of E. coli O157:H7 have been linked to consumption of raw, undercooked, or spoiled meat.