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Bacterial Break-in
23 January 2012

Bacterial Break-in

The dangerous food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (the specks of green) enters the body via the gut, specifically at the tips of tiny finger-like projections that line the intestine, called villi (red, seen here from above). Cells at the villi tips are regularly shed, which exposes a protein that the bacteria use to get inside the cells. The E-cadherin protein sticks cells together like grout between tiles. How Listeria manage to reach that grout had long perplexed scientists but they now know that it is the continuous replacement of the cellular tiles at the villi tips that gives the bugs the perfect opportunity.

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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