VIBRIO CHOLERAEThe Bacterial Cause of the Disease Cholera 

  • When Vibrio cholerae bacteria reach the small intestine,
  • they need to propel themselves through the thick mucus that lines the small intestine to get to the intestinal walls where they can thrive.
  • So they start to produce the hollow cylindrical protein flagellin to make flagella, the cork-screw fibers they rotate to propel themselves through the mucus.
  • However, once the cholera bacteria reach the intestinal wall they no longer need the flagella to move.
  • In response to the changed chemical surroundings, they stop producing flagellin
  • and start producing the toxic proteins
  • that give rise to the watery diarrhea
  • that carries new generations of V. cholerae bacteria out into the drinking water of the next host.

See Wikipedia for more …

In cholera, a secretion system facilitates the movement of complex proteins (such as the toxin described above) across bacterial membranes.

Using cryo-electron microscopy, [researchers identified] a structural basis for such a secretion mechanism, showing that the barrel-shaped channel appears to contain a gate in between the cholera bacterium’s two outer membranes.

CREDIT: Tamir Gonen (via Janelia Farm)

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