Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Little but lethal -- small RNAs coordinate bacterial attack on epithelial cells

Two small RNAs (sRNAs) working in concert enable the deadly enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) 0157:H7 to attach to and initiate infection in epithelial cells that line the digestive tract, according to a study published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Gram-negative bacteria such as EHEC enter their prey and deploy syringe-like weapons called type III secretion systems (T3SS) that inject proteins into the epithelial cells to promote reorganization of the the cytoskeleton into pedestals that act as docking stations for the bacteria to adhere to the cells.

Both pedestal and T3SS formation demand rapid activation and precise coordination of a large number of bacterial genes co-opted from a pathogenicity island called the locus of enterocytes effacement (LEE) which Charley Gruber, Vanessa Sperandio and their colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas recently discovered is orchestrated by two sRNAs known as GlmY and GlmZ.

"Our data reveal two previously unknown mechanisms of actions for these sRNAs," Sperandio says. "Working together GlmY and GlmZ cleave the transcript between espJ and espFu genes enabling translation of EspFu, a protein important for efficient mammalian-cell invasion, and also destabilize the LEE 4 and 5 transcripts thus fine tuning LEE gene expression."

"Destabilization of LEE is especially important for two reasons first, it permits the differential expression of various genes encoded within the same cluster and second, it ensures that the bacteria are forming optimal pedestal levels on epithelial cells during infection," according to Sperandio. Thus, these researchers propose that these sRNAs are responsible for the dynamic rewiring of the bacterial complex machineries that enable infection.

"This is a very important contribution to the field particularly because it shows that things are more complicated than they initially appeared," comments Petr G. Leiman at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. "Studies involving sRNA are tricky and require many controls which this paper appears to present in full, thus making the Sperandio team's work very significant."

"The horizontal acquisitions of pathogenicity islands [such as LEE] with their added virulence genes enable bacteria to exploit additional niches and new hosts," explains Sperandio. "Our results suggest that the interplay between ancient and recent evolutionary acquisitions shaped the EHEC we're dealing with today," Gruber adds. However, the evolution is ongoing and as the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland so famously said, we have to race ahead just to keep up.

mBio® is an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology to make microbiology research broadly accessible. The focus of the journal is on rapid publication of cutting-edge research spanning the entire spectrum of microbiology and related fields. It can be found online at

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

Jim Sliwa | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Two decades of training students and experts in tracking infectious disease
27.11.2015 | Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg

nachricht Increased carbon dioxide enhances plankton growth, opposite of what was expected
27.11.2015 | Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Siemens to supply 126 megawatts to onshore wind power plants in Scotland

27.11.2015 | Press release

Two decades of training students and experts in tracking infectious disease

27.11.2015 | Life Sciences

Coming to a monitor near you: A defect-free, molecule-thick film

27.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>