News of the WeekMicrobiology

Listeria Enlists Host in Its Attack

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Science  03 Nov 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5493, pp. 914-915
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5493.914b

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As described on page 992, a 27-amino acid addition to a protein some 500 amino acids long enabled the food-borne pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause meningitis and death in people with compromised immune systems, to deploy a toxic protein without killing its host cell. As a result, the microbe remains comfortably ensconced within the cell and can avoid confronting antibodies, the immune system's foot soldiers.