New publication in Nature Communications

Genotoxic E. coli “caught in the act” of transforming primary colon cells

We recently provided definitive evidence for a link between genotoxic bacterial species and subgroup of colorectal cancers by identifying the genetic signature left by colibactin in host cells [click here]. We have gone a significant step further by utilizing organoids to observe a possible infection-induced cellular transformation. To our satisfaction, not only did the infected cells begin to proliferate faster than usual, but a subset of cells no longer required the presence of Wnt protein in the growth medium. This growth factor is normally present in the microenvironment surrounding the epithelial stem cells at the colon glands’ crypts. As observed for the infected organoids, such growth factor independence is a characteristic of early colorectal cancer cells. The infected organoids contained numerous chromosomal aberrations and mutations, including mutations related to p53 signaling. This study corroborates former studies in understanding how bacterial infections, even brief, can potentially promote carcinogenesis.

Read more about it here or here in German.

Iftekhar A, Berger H, Bouznad N, Heuberger J, Boccellato F, Dobrindt U, Hermeking H, Sigal M and Meyer TF. Genomic aberrations after short-term exposure to colibactin-producing E. coli transform primary colon epithelial cellsNature Communications (2021)

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