H pylori Crossing Mucus Layer
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H. pylori Crossing Mucus Layer

July 28, 2010
Contact with stomach acid keeps the mucin lining the epithelial cell layer in a spongy gel-like state. This consistency is impermeable to the bacterium Heliobacter pylori. However, the bacterium releases urease, which neutralizes the stomach acid and causes the mucin to liquefy, and the bacterium can swim right through it.

This discovery--showing how bacterium that causes human stomach ulcers uses a clever biochemical strategy to alter the physical properties of its environment, allowing it to move and survive and further colonize its host--changes a long-held paradigm about how bacteria move through soft gels.

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