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Science 306 (5699): 1186-1188

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Microbial Factor-Mediated Development in a Host-Bacterial Mutualism

Tanya A. Koropatnick,1 Jacquelyn T. Engle,2 Michael A. Apicella,3 Eric V. Stabb,4 William E. Goldman,2 Margaret J. McFall-Ngai1,5*

Abstract: Tracheal cytotoxin (TCT), a fragment of the bacterial surface molecule peptidoglycan (PGN), is the factor responsible for the extensive tissue damage characteristic of whooping cough and gonorrhea infections. Here, we report that Vibrio fischeri also releases TCT, which acts in synergy with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to trigger tissue development in its mutualistic symbiosis with the squid Euprymna scolopes. As components of PGN and LPS have commonly been linked with pathogenesis in animals, these findings demonstrate that host interpretation of these bacterial signal molecules is context dependent. Therefore, such differences in interpretation can lead to either inflammation and disease or to the establishment of a mutually beneficial animal-microbe association.

1 Pacific Biomedical Research Center, Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii, 41 Ahui Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA.
2 Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.
3 Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.
4 Department of Microbiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
5 Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mjmcfallngai{at}

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