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Nature. 1985 Sep 19-25;317(6034):262-4.

A single genetic locus encoded by Yersinia pseudotuberculosis permits invasion of cultured animal cells by Escherichia coli K-12.


For many species of pathogenic bacteria, invasion and survival within animal cells is central to establishing a successful host-parasite relationship. Localization within host cells protects the microorganism from host defences, or permits it to cross epithelial barriers and subsequently become systemically distributed. The precise mechanisms that permit entry of bacteria into host tissues are unclear, therefore we have been studying the invasion of epithelial cells by Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. As a first step towards identifying the factors required for this process, we report here the identification of a single genetic locus from this organism that is sufficient to convert the innocuous Escherichia coli K-12 strain into an organism capable of invading cultured animal cells.

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