Yersinia's Hit and Run on the Microbiota

Yersinia infection can cause intestinal dysbiosis long after the infection has been cleared.

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In the current issue of Cell Host & Microbe, DePaolo and colleagues find that Yersinia enterocolitica infection of Tlr1−/− mice leads to elevated inflammatory signaling in the intestine months after the infection has resolved. This was likely due to the expansion of certain commensals such as Desulfovibrio desulfuricans or loss of others like several Lactobacilli species during Y. enterocolitica infection and the subsequent host immune response. Interestingly, when the altered microbiota was transferred into germ-free mice, they found that recipient mice became more sensitive to colitis and had similar elevated levels of the proinflammtory cytokines as the donor. Taken together, the authors suggests that even acute infections (and their long lasting perturbations on the microbiota) could serve as distant cues that can render people more susceptibility to later inflammatory events.

Michael Chao

Project Manager, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

I first developed an interest in bacterial pathogenesis while at Cornell University. I then earned my PhD in Biomedical and Biological Sciences from Harvard University in Eric Rubin’s laboratory, studying cell wall remodelling in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. From 2012-2015, I continued my training as a postdoctoral fellow in Matthew Waldor’s lab at Harvard Medical School, investigating the role of DNA methylation on regulating fundamental cellular processes in Vibrio cholerae.