Discovery: blocking E. coli receptor averts infection
A newly discovered receptor in a strain of Escherichia coli
can be blocked to avert infection, a finding that might aid in developing better
therapies to treat bacterial infections resulting in food poisoning, diarrhoea
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are the
first to identify the receptor, known as QseC, used by a diarrhoea-causing
strain of E. coli to receive signals from human flora and hormones in the
intestine and express virulence genes to initiate infection.
study made available online this week and in an upcoming issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe how they
used phentolamine, an alpha blocker drug used to treat hypertension, to
successfully impede signalling to the receptor. Without such signals, bacteria
then pass blindly through the digestive tract without infecting
"This receptor is found in many pathogens, so we can use this
knowledge to design specific antagonists to block bacterial infections,"
said Dr Vanessa Sperandio, senior author of the study and assistant
professor of microbiology at UT Southwestern.
The work was supported
by the US Institutes of Health and the Ellison Foundation.
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