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Seminar 8: Virulence Factors – How Pathogenic Bacteria Overcome our Defence Systems

“Virulence Factors: How Pathogenic Bacteria Overcome our Defense Systems”
by: Dr. Diethelm Kleiner
Professor of Microbiology (Retd.)
Univ. of Bayreuth, Germany
DATE: 10 April 2013 (Wednesday)
TIME: 3-4pm
VENUE: Student Centre, QIUP, Plaza Teh Teng Seng

ABSTRACT

Pathogenic bacteria are able to overcome the defence systems of their prey with the help of virulence factors (mostly proteins). These virulence factors are only produced when the bacteria have encountered their target tissue. In order to follow this economizing strategy they have evolved sensing systems to get information about their environment. Furthermore, most pathogens only produce virulence factors and attack when they are present in sufficiently high numbers (infectious dose). Specific “quorum sensing systems” enable these bacteria to “count” their companions and at a precisely timed moment they are able to make a concerted attack and produce ample virulence factors to overwhelm the host defences.

This seminar attempts to outline the basic insights gained in the last decades. Some specific examples are presented to illustrate the relevant points and to hint at future practical perspectives, especially in the field of medicine.

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