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Scientists Discover How An Infectious Bacterium Causes Raw Oyster Food Poisoning

August 19, 2010: 12:53 PM EST
A U.S. study has discovered how the infectious bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. para) kills cells and causes food poisoning in people who eat raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. The research team found that the bacterial molecule VPA0450 extracts a cluster of atoms called a phosphate from a larger host cell molecule. The phosphate cluster helps hold the cell together, so without it the host-cell membrane fails, the cell loses integrity and is then destroyed by the infection. The new findings reinforce the idea that V. para kills a host cell through the combined efforts of a group of effector proteins working together. V. para can also cause an infection in the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm sea water.
Christopher A. Broberg, Lingling Zhang, Herman Gonzalez, Michelle A. Laskowski-Arce, Kim Orth, "A Vibrio Effector Protein is an Inositol Phosphatase and Disrupts Host Cell Membrane Integrity", Science Express, August 19, 2010, © American Association for the Advancement of Science
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