Plastic protein protects bacteria from stomach acid's unfolding power

Author(s): Timothy L. Tapley, Jan L. Korner, Madhuri T. Barge, Julia Hupfeld, Joseph A. Schauerte, Ari Gafni, Ursula Jakob, James C.A. Bardwell

Plastic protein

Description:

Professor James Bardwell and his research group have recently discovered how a tiny protein helps protect disease-causing bacteria from the ravaging effects of stomach acid! One way that acid kills bacteria is by causing the proteins in them to unfold and stick together in much the same way that heating an egg causes its proteins to form a solid mass. It is also very difficult for bacteria to dissolve these protein clumps, so bacteria and most living things can die when exposed to acid or heat. 

Disease-causing bacteria such as the notorious E. coli are protected from stomach acid by a tiny protein called HdeA. In the PNAS paper, the researchers describe how this protein works to protect bacteria.
Read the UM News Services article and USA Today article.




Publication Information:

Name of Periodical: PNAS

Year of Publication: 2009