Secret to how cholera adapts to temperature revealed
The Cava group and their international collaborators at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Harvard Medical School and Ohio State University have discovered an essential protein in cholera-causing bacteria that allows them to adapt to changes in temperature, according to a study published today in eLife.
Text by Emily Packer, Media Relations Manager, eLife
Impact statement: A protein that helps Vibrio cholerae adapt to temperature has been identified, providing insights into how bacteria change their biology under different conditions.
The protein, BipA, is conserved across bacterial species, which suggests it could hold the key to how other types of bacteria change their biology and growth to survive at suboptimal temperatures.
Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae) is the bacteria responsible for the severe diarrhoeal disease cholera. As with other species, V. cholerae forms biofilms – communities of bacteria enclosed in a structure made up of sugars and proteins – to protect against predators and stress conditions. V. cholerae forms these biofilms both in their aquatic environment and in the human intestine. There is evidence to suggest that biofilm formation is crucial to V. cholerae’s ability to colonise in the intestine and might enhance its infectivity.
“V. cholerae experiences a wide range of temperatures, and adapting to them is not only important for survival in the environment but also for the infection process,” explains lead author Teresa del Peso Santos, a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), Umeå University, Sweden. “We know that at 37 degrees Celsius, V. cholerae grows as rough colonies that form a biofilm. However, at lower temperatures these colonies are completely smooth. We wanted to understand how it does this.”