News from the Benches: AIEC Breaches Host Defenses

The latest work from the Coombes lab was recently published in Infection & Immunity. This work was lead by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Joe McPhee, with help from postdoctoral fellow Dr. Cherrie Small, PhD student Sarah Reid-Yu, and collaborators at McGill University. The research investigated how adherent-invasive E. coli, a bacterium associated with Crohn’s disease, breaches host defenses to gain access to the protective layer of epithelial cells in the gut. Using an animal model developed in the lab, Joe identified genes in AIEC that allow the bacteria to degrade host defense peptides, normally used to protect the epithelial surface from bacteria. By degrading these antimicrobial molecules, AIEC is able to better establish infection in the gut and induce host pathology.

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