Membrane vesicles released by bacteria may play different roles during infection


Bacteria release membrane-derived vesicles (MVs), which are small particles that can transport virulence factors to neighboring bacteria or to the cells of a mammalian host. This special MV-based system for delivering toxic proteins and nucleic acids in a protected manner to the target cells may have different specific functions depending on whether the bacterium acts as an extracellular or intracellular pathogen.

Systems analysis points to links between Toxoplasma infection and common brain diseases


Nearly one out of every three humans on earth has a lifelong infection with the brain-dwelling parasite Toxoplasma gondii. In a new report, researchers from multiple institutions describe efforts to learn how infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii may alter, and in some cases amplify, several brain disorders, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as some cancers.

A hair-trigger for cells fighting infection


In response to infection the immune system produces unique antibodies to target each illness. To make these new antibodies, cells in the immune system must intentionally damage their own genes, meaning they run the risk of becoming cancer cells. New research reveals how a proteins called Tia1 acts as a hair-trigger for DNA repair, allowing the immune system to walk the line between health and harm.

Infection model developed for tickborne flaviviruses


Scientists have filled a research gap by developing a laboratory model to study ticks that transmit flaviviruses, such as Powassan virus. Powassan virus was implicated in the death of a New York man earlier this year. The unusual model involves culturing organs taken from Ixodes scapularis ticks and then infecting those organ cultures with flaviviruses.