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Treating bacterial infections with antibiotics often kills intestinal flora, leading to diarrhoea and inflammation of the gut. Often it is bacteria known as Clostridium difficile which are responsible; they proliferate when the normal microbiome is killed by antibiotics. A working group headed by Professor Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories of the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Freiburg, collaborating with Professor Dr. Andreas Schlosser of the Rudolf Virchow Center in Würzburg, has shown how the microbes' poisonous proteins penetrate intestinal cells. The results of their study are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Clostridium difficile produces toxins in the gut that get into cells in the intestinal mucosal surface, disrupting their barrier function. Researchers have long known how these toxins affect cells. They transfer sugar to switch proteins, rendering them inactive. This leads to disintegration and death of the cell. But it was not known how the relatively large proteins in the toxins were able to enter the host cell. It was only known that...
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