Here’s How E. Coli Knows How to Make You Really Sick

A pair of School of Medicine scientists have revealed how E. coli seeks out the most oxygen-free crevices of your colon to cause the worst infection possible. The discovery could one day help doctors prevent the infection from taking hold by allowing E. coli bacteria to pass harmlessly through your body.

The new discovery shows just how the foodborne pathogen knows where and when to begin colonizing the colon on its way to making you sick. By recognizing the low-oxygen environment of the large intestine, the dangerous bacterium gives itself the best odds of establishing a robust infection – one that is punishing for the host.

Kendall and Melson have published their findings in the scientific journal PNAS.  The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, grants AI118732 and AI130439. In addition, Melson was supported by NIH training grant 5T32AI007046.

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