Researchers have found that a primitive type of ion channel similar to those found in mammalian nerve cells helps bacteria resist the blast of acid they encounter in the stomach of their hosts.
The discovery suggests a plausible mechanism whereby bacteria can fend off stomach acidity long enough to establish themselves in the intestine. More broadly, said the scientists, the finding represents the first insight into why bacteria have forms of the same ion channels -- proteins that control the flow of ions through cell membranes -- found in higher organisms.
In an article published in the October 17, 2002, issue of the journal Nature, researchers led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Christopher Miller present evidence that the chloride ion channel is an integral part of the extreme acid resistance (XAR) response of the bacterium E. coli. Miller co-authored the paper with colleagues Ramkumar Iyer, Tina M. Iverson and Alessio Accardi, all of Brandeis University.
Jim Keeley | EurekAlert!
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