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Regina Bailey

Bacteria Counteract Defense Mechanisms

By November 24, 2012

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Salmonella bacteria (green) invade a red blood cell.
Credit: Professor David Holden, Imperial College London

Researchers have discovered how Salmonella bacteria combat the body's defenses through the use of lysosomes. Lysosomes are membranous sacs of hydrolytic enzymes that are capable of digesting bacteria. When under attack, our cells can engulf bacteria and use the toxic enzymes within cellular lysosomes to destroy the bacteria. Salmonella bacteria are able to counter this attack by interrupting the flow of enzymes to lysosomes.

According to researcher, Professor David Holden, "This seems to be a very effective way for these harmful bacteria to interfere with our cell's defense mechanisms, and then exploit the defective lysosomes to their own benefit." Once the lysosomes are rendered harmless due to their lack of enzyme supply, the bacteria can then consume the nutrients within the lysosomes. If unchecked, Salmonella bacteria can cause conditions such as gastroenteritis and typhoid fever.

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