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Salmonella uses protective switch during infection

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For the first time, researchers have found a particular kind of molecular switch in the food poisoning bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium under infection-like conditions. This switch, using a process called S-thiolation, appears to be used by the bacteria to respond to changes in the environment during infection and might protect it from harm, researchers report this week online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

S-thiolation protects proteins from irreversible chemical changes when a cell is stressed. The newly discovered switch might regulate when or how proteins work while offering protection, providing researchers insight into Salmonella infection.

"We continue to recognize just how clever this bug is in adapting to its environment," said systems biologist Josh Adkins of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "During infection it lives in hostile environments, and so it can use multiple approaches to adjust its functions."

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