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Clostridioides Difficile Captures Blood Cell Cofactor to Build Defensive Shield

Phys.org

Photo: CDC

Phys.org

In a cruel twist, the bacterium Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) makes us bleed and then uses our blood to defend itself against us.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center scientists have identified a C. diff protein system that senses and captures heme (part of hemoglobin) to build a protective shield that fends off threats from our immune system and antibiotics. The findings, reported in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, reveal a unique mechanism for C. diff survival in the human gut and suggest novel strategies for weakening its defenses.

C. diff—the most common cause of healthcare-associated infections ...