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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2001 Feb;4(1):21-7.

Molecular basis for the peripheral nerve predilection of Mycobacterium leprae.

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  • 1Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Mycobacterium leprae, the causative organism of leprosy, has a unique predilection for Schwann cells, the glial cells of the peripheral nervous system. M. leprae invasion of Schwann cells leads to the neurological damage that underlies the sensory motor loss and subsequent deformity and disability associated with this disease. Recent studies have begun to elucidate the early events of M. leprae infection of Schwann cells on a molecular level, and the host and bacterial factors that determine the neural predilection of this bacterium. These advances have now provided novel insights into the mechanisms of bacterial interactions with host cells.

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