Triggering Bacterial Virulence

Science  30 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5279, pp. 1183-1185
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5279.1183


When pathogenic bacteria invade a host, virulence genes are induced that allow the bacteria to evade the host's defense mechanisms. Two reports in this week's issue [Pettersson et al. (p.1231) and Zhang et al. (p. 1234)] show that cell-cell contact between bacteria and host is a key trigger in this induction, at least in a strain of Escherichia coli and in Yersinia. In their Perspective, Cotter and Miller draw parallels between these two systems and predict that cell-cell contact may be a general mechanism for virulence gene regulation.