Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Research turning up the heat on fowl bacteria


Finding how the fowl-borne bacteria Campylobacter jejuni makes at least a million Americans miserable for a week each year is on the plates of two Medical College of Georgia microbiologists.

Raw and undercooked poultry and meat, raw milk and untreated water are sources for Campylobacter, the most common bacterial cause of diarrhea in the United States, according the U.S. Public Health Service.

But finding how these bacteria that happily co-exist with chickens and turkeys burrow their way into intestinal cells to eat and make people sick in the process should provide direction on how to stop them, say Drs. Stuart A. Thompson and Christopher M. Burns. "The basic problem with Campylobacter is that we don’t know how it causes disease," says Dr. Thompson, who recently received his third National Institutes of Health grant to answer this question and develop a vaccine. "To understand how to treat a bacterium, you have to understand how it causes disease."

He and Dr. Burns, co-principal investigator on the latest grant, are learning that the mindless microorganism is an incredibly skilled survivor. "What we are working on is one of the basic mechanisms of any bacterial disease: that bacteria regulate their own genes in order to cause whatever disease process they cause," says Dr. Thompson. "Bacteria exploit their hosts to live." And the human body is ripe for picking. "Think about it, inside human cells are tons of goodies, all kinds of sugars and other elements. If bacteria can get there, cause the cells and tissue to become inflamed, cells starts releasing all these nutrients and the bacteria have things to eat. In fact, bacteria don’t want to kill a host because then they run out of nutrients."

All this exploitation requires being responsive to the environment. "Organisms can sense where they are in people and respond by changing their gene expression so they are making the right proteins for the environment they happen to be in," says Dr. Burns.

The researchers are exploring this exploitation to learn how gene regulation changes. Dr. Burns is using microarray technology to look at gene expression in Campylobacter, which has one of the smallest genomes of any free-living bacteria, a fact that should simplify the search somewhat. Dr. Thompson is using proteomics to look at protein expression patterns of genes. "Mostly it’s trying to work out regulatory pathways," he says.

As an example, temperature, which can regulate some protein expression, may play a role in why Campylobacter live harmlessly in normally warm chickens and makes cooler humans sick. In looking at proteins turned off and on in chickens and people, Dr. Thompson zeroed in on one called CJ1461 that is turned on in people. The "wild hope" he had that this unusual protein was involved in gene regulation appears to a reality.

When the researchers disabled the protein, gene regulation went haywire, Dr. Thompson says. "So we have hit on something that affects a large number of different processes in the cells. The genome of Campylobacter had been sequenced so CJ1461 was known, but there was only an educated guess as to what it did. What it appears to be is a DNA methylase, which means it adds methyl groups to DNA to somehow change gene regulation," says Dr. Thompson. "One of the things that we are finding is that CJ1461 controls how the cell can swim," says Dr. Thompson. "Campylobacter have little tails called flagella so they can swim, and their ability to swim is critical for getting where they need to go."

One place Campylobacter want to go is to the intestinal wall where they can get inside cells, eat and hide from the immune system. But they have to work hard to get there, including swimming through the thick mucus constantly being shed by the gut. CJ1461 is involved in the gene regulation necessary to produce much-needed tails for the task. The protein also appears to affect the bacteria’s ability to take up iron, which is scarce and necessary for life.

CJ1461 also seems to work as a lifesaver for Campylobacter by helping the bacteria survive oxygen radicals released by the immune system when it sees the invaders. These oxygen radicals also prompt the intestinal inflammatory response that makes people sick.

Symptoms include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever; in the worst-case scenarios, which are fortunately rare, people develop Guillain-Barre’ syndrome, a paralysis-inducing autoimmune response to a bacterial or viral infection.

Drs. Burns and Thompson hope their studies will help identify targets for better treatments for the disease and ultimately a vaccine to prevent it.

In the meantime, they encourage consumers to cook poultry products thoroughly and carefully wash their hands, pots, utensils, counters and anything else that comes in contact with raw poultry.

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>