Creating an environment that nurtures the trillions of beneficial microbes in our gut and, at the same time, protects us against invasion by food-borne pathogens is a challenge. A study published on August 8 in PLOS Pathogens reveals the role of a key player in this balancing act.
SIGIRR is a protein present at the surface of the cells that line the gut that dampens the innate (non-specific) immune response of these cells to bacteria. The new study, led by Xiaoxia Li (from the Lerner Research Institute in Cleveland, USA) and Bruce Vallance (from BC's Childrens' Hospital and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada), now shows that SIGIRR function in mice (and presumably also in humans) is necessary to protect the gut against "hostile takeover" by bacteria that cause serious food poisoning and bowel inflammation.
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