Now, scientists from the USA have discovered that a molecule produced by a common gut bacterium activates signalling pathways that are associated with cancer cells. The research, published in the October issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology, sheds light on the way gut bacteria can cause colon cancer.
There are more bacteria in our bodies than there ever have been people on the Earth. In fact, there are more bacteria in the colon than there are human cells in our bodies. Most of the bacteria in our guts are harmless and many are beneficial to our health. However, for several decades scientists have thought that some microbes living in the gut may play a role in the formation of sporadic colorectal cancer.
Enterococcus faecalis is a normal gut bacterium. Unlike most gut bacteria, it can survive using two different types of metabolism: respiration and fermentation. When the bacteria use fermentation they release by-products. One of these is a kind of oxygen molecule called superoxide, which can damage DNA and may play a role in the formation of colon tumours.
"We wanted to investigate how colon cells respond to normal gut bacteria that can damage DNA, like E. faecalis," said Professor Mark Huycke from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Olklahoma City, USA. "We found that superoxide from E. faecalis led to strong signalling in immune cells called macrophages. It also altered the way some cells in the gut grew and divided and even increased the productivity of genes that are associated with cancer."
The team found that 42 genes in epithelial cells in the gut are involved in the regulation of the cell cycle, cell death and signalling based on the unique metabolism of E. faecalis. This suggests that cells of the lining of the colon are rapidly affected when E. faecalis switches to fermentation. It also indicates that E. faecalis may have developed novel mechanisms to encourage colon cells to turn cancerous.
Intestinal cancers occur almost exclusively in the colon where billions of bacteria are in contact with the gut surface. For years scientists have tried to identify links between gut bacteria and people who are at risk of colon cancer. This has been made difficult by the enormous complexity of the microbial communities in the intestine.
"Our findings are among the first to explore mechanisms by which normal gut bacteria damage DNA and alter gene regulation in the colon that might lead to cancer," said Professor Huycke. "This research puts n to perspective the complexity of the effects normal gut bacteria can have on the health of an individual."
Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals
21.02.2018 | University of Chicago
The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally
21.02.2018 | Technische Universität München
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences