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Bug's-eye-view of urinary tract reveals E.coli infection genes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Anyone who thinks scientists lead a glamorous, exciting life should talk to Jennifer Snyder, a graduate student at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine. During July of 2003, while all her friends were out enjoying themselves, Snyder spent 10 days trying to get 40 laboratory mice to urinate into little plastic tubes.

Snyder's goal was to extract enough genetic material from mouse urine to determine which of the 5,611 genes in a pathogenic strain of E.coli bacteria were turned on, or expressed, in mice with urinary tract infections. The results of her research, conducted in collaboration with scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be published in the November 2004 issue of Infection and Immunity.

Results from the study could lead to new, more effective treatments for urinary tract infections, which are the cause of an estimated eight million physician visits in the United States each year. Nearly half of all American women have had at least one urinary tract infection, and know all too well how incapacitating and difficult to treat they can be.

"Even though Escherichia coli's genome was sequenced in 2001, we didn't know which genes were active during infection of an animal host or what proteins were present during the infection stage," says Harry L.T. Mobley, Ph.D., a professor and chair of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Mobley directed the study while he was a faculty member at the University of Maryland.

"Now we can quantify the activity of every gene in a representative strain of uropathogenic E. coli, called CFT073, during infection of the mammalian urinary tract," adds Mobley. "Knowing its gene expression profile essentially gives us a snapshot of what's happening inside the urinary tract, from the pathogen's point of view."

The study was designed to compare gene expression levels for t
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25-Oct-2004


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