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Whitehead Scientist Identify the Single Protein Responsible for Bacterial "Comet Tails" To Infect Cells

July 3, 1995

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have shown that a single surface protein called IscA is all that the bacteria Shigella flexneri needs to propel itself inside and among host cells-a characteristic that enables the organism to infect human colon cells and cause diarrhea. Eschericha coli, when engineered to express the Shigella protein, acquire the same ability to move inside and among frog egg cells. The finding has implications for understanding cancer, building vaccine delivery systems, and finding new ways to combat bacterial resistance. The results are reported in the July 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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