Study Shows How Bacteria Infects Stomach & Gut

Scientists have uncovered how a stomach ulcer-causing bacteria sticks to and infects the lining of the stomach and gut.

AsianScientist (Jan. 21, 2014) – Scientists have uncovered how a stomach ulcer-causing bacteria linked to gastric cancer sticks to and infects the lining of the stomach and gut.

Scientists have long had an interest in how the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, causes ulcers and more rarely gastric cancer. Dr. Terry Kwok and Professor James Whisstock from Monash University’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, together with colleagues, have determined the three-dimensional structure of a protein called SabA. SabA effectively acts as glue, sticking the bacteria to the lining the stomach, which can cause gastric disease.

“SabA is a type of protein known as an adhesin. As the name suggests, adhesins stick the bacteria to the cells lining the stomach. If we can stop SabA from working properly, then we may have a new approach for treating a range of different gastric diseases,” said Whisstock.

The researchers pinpointed the part of SabA that is important for its stickiness, and they are now working to develop specific drugs that stop the protein from working properly. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Dr. Kwok said infection with bacteria Helicobacter pylori is the cause of most stomach and small intestine ulcers.

“Chronic Helicobacter pylori infection is an important problem, with re-occurring infections particularly difficult to treat, so there is great interest in developing new and specific drugs in this area,” said Dr. Kwok.

The article can be found at: Pang S et al. (2013) The three-dimensional structure of the extracellular adhesion domain of the sialic acid-binding adhesin SabA from Helicobacter pylori.


Source: Monash Univesity; Photo: brick red/Flickr/CC.
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