Researchers Discover New Toxic Gene in Cholera Bacteria

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Researchers from Umea University discovered structure and function of an unknown Vibrio toxin in Cholera bacteria

The bacterium Vibrio cholera is the main cause of bacterial infectious diseases leading to outbreaks of cholera worldwide. Different variants of Vibrio cholera are also responsible for wound infections and infections in the ear canal.  Bacterial Infection in bloodstream often leads to blood poisoning. Several of these variants are found in brackish water, freshwater and saltwater.

Research from Umeå University led by Professor Sun Nyunt Wai at Department of Molecular Biology discovered and characterized the structure and function of a new Vibrio toxin. The team used Caenorhabditis elegans warms as host for the bacteria to analyze the molecular genetic markup of Vibrio cholera genes responsible for production and release of new protein toxin called MaKA. Vibrio cholera is a mobile bacterium, which possess a rotating flagellum at the back of the cell that enables it to swim in fluids. According to the researchers the rotating flagellum of this bacterium is responsible for mechanism for motility and the release of the MaKA toxin. The bacteria was subjected to electron microscopy and light microscopy.  The molecular genetic methods involved under the observations proved that MaKA is transported through the channel of the flagellum filamentous structure. The research was published in Communications Biology on June 27, 2018.

MaKA provides the Vibrio cholera with the flexibility to survive and spread in different environments as well as colonize and grow in human infections. Apart from the toxic nature of MaKA demonstrated with Caenorhabditis elegans, the research highlighted the damage to the intestinal system in Zebra fish. The report stated further study on the effects and role of the MaKA toxin in natural systems as it might be responsible for some of the fish deaths in natural environments. Antibiotics developed against MaKA would aid in immunization of the breeding fish.

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