Listeria: A biological hacker in the human immune system

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It appears that a bacterial protein may be able to penetrate the cell nucleus and reprogramme the genes responsible for activating our immune system.

Multidisciplinary research teams have recently shown that the bacteria responsible for listeriosis in humans modifies the expression of genes to its advantage in the cells it infects.

This “hacker” is a small bacterial protein known as LntA.

It appears to be capable of breaking down the barriers separating it from our genes.

We do not yet know how and when the bacteria decides on the production of this LntA factor, although its expression is essential to the successful development of Listeria infection, the Pasteur Institute explains.

This discovery, if confirmed with other pathogens, could provide extremely valuable data and may eventually help us to fight more effectively against infectious and immune diseases.

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