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Acta Microbiol Immunol Hung. 2004;51(3):321-32.

Bacterial models for tumor development. Mini-review.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunobiology, Faculty of Medicine, Szent-Györgyi Albert Medical Centre, University of Szeged, Dóm tér 10, H-6720 Szeged, Hungary.


The tumor-inducing effects of Agrobacterium, Bartonella and Helicobacter bacterial species are compared step by step. An analogy for the existence of these individual steps is considered in connection with the development of cancer. The transformations of eukaryotic cells occur in particular in the type IV secretion system, i.e. involving the simultaneous transmission of DNA and protein from bacterial cells to eukaryotic cells. Thus, transfected cells facilitate the indefinite growth of tissue cells and additionally produce growth factors, triggering further bacterial multiplication. The higher numbers of bacteria then produce more transfection and the cycle repeats as long as the host lives. The main limiting factor is the frequency of bacterial infection, while the secondary rate-limiting factors are the levels of transforming growth factors and factors triggering bacteria growth.


Analogous processes are probably responsible for the tumor induction by the three different bacterial species; however, the critical points for eradication are different. The early eradication or limitation of B. henselae or H. pylori can prevent hemangiomas, stomach cancer and malignant cell proliferation. The crown gall formation by A. tumefaciens can only be avoided by prevention of the transforming activity of a single bacterial infection. Questions arise as to what is common in the three processes, and the nature of the rate-limiting step in the three different models. The frequency of transformation is the rate-limiting step, but the co-transmission of the DNA-protein complex is common in the three systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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