The Salmonella strains responsible for most food-poisoning cases occurring in developed countries pretty much limit their residence in the human body to the gut…But a mutant strain emerging in sub-Saharan Africa is uncharacteristically adept at breaking out of the intestine into the bloodstream, from which it can spread to other organs throughout the body and cause a lot of trouble.
In a new study, Stanford bacteriologist Denise Monack…has figured out how [the ST313 strain] manages to get out of the gut and perch elsewhere without getting pounced on…by the body’s immune system. In this Salmonella variant, a gene responsible for the production of a protein that…trips off a strong immune response…has been disabled, so the offending protein is no longer produced.
[As a result, the] mutant marauder is able to hitch a ride inside [an] immune cell…and travel undetected from the gut to the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver.
“By better understanding how Salmonella evolves to cause systemic disease in humans, we can better assess how dangerous emerging strains or outbreaks of Salmonella might be and mount the appropriate public health response,” Monack says.
[The study can be found here.]
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