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Dysentery amoeba gets a boost from a transcription factor

Every year, the parasite Entamoeba histolytica causes an estimated 40 million cases of amoebic dysentery and liver abscesses and 100,000 deaths, mainly in developing countries. A new paper accepted for publication in mBio shows that a transcription factor called Upstream Regulatory Element 3-Binding Protein (URE3-BP) promotes the expression of the virulence phenotype ā€“ turning a mostly harmless protozoan into a very unwelcome resident of your liver or intestinal tract. In their work, Gilchrist et al. created mutant amebae that expressed the dominant positive URE3-BP. The mutants were more virulent than their wild type counterparts and exhibited an elongated morphology and other signs of remodeling of the cell surface.

The unrevised version of Gilchrist et al. is available on the mBio website now (http://mbio.asm.org/mbio.00057-10v1.pdf). A final, typeset version of the article will appear in the inaugural issue of the online journal in May.

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