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Human-Restricted Bacterial Pathogens Block Shedding of Epithelial Cells by Stimulating Integrin Activation

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Science  03 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1197-1201
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190892

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For systemic infection, bacterial pathogens must breach the mucosal epithelial barrier. Our bodies have developed a variety of strategies to protect the mucosa, including rapid turnover of epithelial cells. Muenzner et al. (p. 1197; see the cover) show how invasive bacteria overcome this host defense in a humanized mouse model susceptible to Neisseria gonorrhoeae urogenital infection. The bacteria bind to a host-cell surface protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), which triggers a cascade of changes modulating the cell adhesion properties of the targeted epithelium to prevent the cells from being shed.

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