Bacterial pathogen responsible for human listeriosis, Listeria monocytogenes is particularly known for its ability to enter cells and manipulate different cellular functions for its own benefit in order to evade host defenses. These strategies enable the group to cross the intestinal barrier and other barriers to the body during infection in humans. Researchers from two units of the Institut Pasteur, Unit-Cell Interactions bacteria “led by Pascale Cossart and Unity” Nuclear Organization and Oncogenesis “whose responsibility is Anne Dejean, in collaboration with a team from the University Ghent, Belgium, found that Listeria produces a toxin that destroys SUMOylation. This is a very important cellular machinery that normally enables the cell to add some small protein called SUMO module, whose characteristic is to change the properties of target proteins. But Listeria blocks the addition of these modules, block proving essential for infection to be effective.
First to make a link between infection by pathogenic bacteria and these modules SUMO, these works open new avenues of research on many other pathogenic bacteria. This mechanism, which allows the bacteria to multiply and spread efficiently, could indeed be applied to other types of pathogenic bacteria. Thus, these studies should provide valuable information it to better understand and ultimately a better response against these bacteria causing major problems in terms of public health. A job so much more important that Listeria monocytogenes is widespread in nature (water, soil, plants, animals) and can contaminate many foods consumed by man. The results of this work have been published in the journal Nature dated April 22, 2010.