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Plague agent helps UT Southwestern researchers find novel signaling system in cells

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The research is not geared toward finding a cure for plague, which affects about a dozen people in the United States a year and is treatable with antibiotics. Instead, the scientists are working to find out how the pathogen disrupts the immune system and to understand the machinery critical for stimulating an immune response.

"There are many virulence factors used by bacterial pathogens to co-opt the host signaling molecules," Dr. Orth said. "These virulence factors affect central signaling machinery, and we want to understand how they are doing it."

Understanding the relationship between the pathogens and the hosts will help researchers uncover critical steps in how host cells normally operate, Dr. Orth said.

"The next step is to see whether the addition of acetyl groups to key sites on enzymes during cellular signaling is normal for animal and plant cells, and if so, under what circumstances," said Dr. Orth.


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Contact: Aline McKenzie
aline.mckenzie@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
25-May-2006


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