Function of clathrin-based endocytic proteins during infections by extracellular bacterial pathogens

Most E. coli bacteria live within the intestines of humans and other animals where they help with normal digestion. However, certain types of E. coli cause disease and represent serious global health concerns. For example, diseases mediated by these pathogenic E. coli often lead to gastro-intestinal infections, resulting in severe and persistent watery or bloody diarrhea. These diseases affect a significant population, especially infants, in many developing countries and the associated mortality rates can exceed 30 percent. Previous research by Ann Lin and others has shown that clathrin, a protein that involves endocytosis, plays a key role in generating E. coli-based diarrhea in humans. Expanding on this research, Ms. Lin is now focusing on the identification of clathrin-associated endocytic components necessary for the development of enteropathogenic E. coli infections, using both in vitro and in vivo approaches. Because other bacteria and viruses (such as influenza), also control clathrin-based internalization mechanisms as part of their infection, Ms. Lin’s’s research will not only provide valuable insight into the mechanism of E. coli-based disease, but will also generate new avenues for the development of novel therapeutics to eradicate other infectious diseases.