What is it about?

Gut bacteria often influence human health, but the mechanism is not very clear. By screening the genome of the bacteria E. coli, we found a set of bacterial genes that promote neurodegeneration in the host. By studying these genes, we show that bacteria can secrete an amyloid fibril called curli, which can enter neurons and serve as seeds to promote the aggregation of other proteins in neurons and cause neurodegeneration.

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Why is it important?

Our work uncovers a mechanistic link between gut bacteria and the progression of neurodegenerative diseases and suggests that targeting curli secretion in the gut may be a way to prevent or slow down neurodegeneration.

Perspectives

This article has led to some encouraging feedback from colleagues around the world, which made me realize that our system of understanding bacteria-host interaction in the context of neurodegenerative diseases may be more powerful than I thought. This study also independently confirmed some results from other animal models of neurodegenerative disease, which is quite satisfying.

Chaogu Zheng
University of Hong Kong

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This page is a summary of: Genome-wide screen identifies curli amyloid fibril as a bacterial component promoting host neurodegeneration, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2106504118.
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