(Sept. 23, 2014) -- Karl Klose, professor of biology and a researcher in UTSA's South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, has teamed up with researchers at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, to understand how humans get infected with cholera. Their findings were released this week in an article published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Cholera is an acute infection caused by ingestion of food or water that is contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. An estimated three to five million cases are reported annually and 100,000-120,000 people die from cholera infections every year. Cholera patients suffer from dramatic fluid loss and can lose up to 40 liters of fluid from their body in just a few days.
Klose and his collaborators discovered that Vibrio cholerae, which normally lives in oceans and rivers, senses a shift in temperature as it enters the human body through a mechanism called a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) thermometer. The thermometer detects the higher body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and then turns on the virulence factors that lead to cholera.
Klose's laboratory showed that interfering with the thermometer prevents the bacteria from causing disease, suggesting possible therapeutic outcomes from this research. The research collaboration stemmed from a long friendship between Klose and Franz Narberhaus, who trained as microbiologists together at U.C. Berkeley 25 years ago.
"The temperature shift is one of the signals that the bacterium uses to turn on the virulence factors, such as the cholera toxin, that cause the disease," said Klose. "We have shown that the bacteria's thermometer controls temperature-dependent expression of the virulence factors. They only express them when they are at body temperature and not at ocean temperature."
"We found that if the RNA thermometer is prevented from working correctly and detecting the right temperature, the bacteria won't cause any disease at all. The organisms will just pass right through the body," explained Klose. "If you can figure out how to disrupt the RNA thermometer in some manner, then you may have a therapy against this disease."
Klose says the long-term goal is to come up with intervention strategies against cholera. Understanding exactly how the bacterium controls the expression of the virulence factors is one step forward in trying to intervene during cholera epidemics.
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.
Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
This event guides seniors and graduate students on the last phase of their college career and prepares recent alumni within one year of graduation for the world of work. Workshops and sessions will provide information on interview skills, job search strategies and networking.
Student Union, University Career Center, 2nd floor, Main Campus
The gala brings together UTSA alumni, friends and guests to celebrate the association's 41 years of scholarships, services, programs and the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.
Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
As part of the citywide Kidcation and the ITC's free second Sunday, kids and families will have an opportunity to interact with cowboy docents, practice their skills at roping, learn about life on the cattle drives, make their own spurs, grab a seat for cowboy story time and work on cowboy-themed hands-on crafts.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Dozens of fun and free events to welcome new and returning Roadrunners.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The kickoff to Roadrunner Days, the UTSA community welcomes the thousands of students who move in to their new homes as they begin their journey at UTSA.
Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
After a full day of moving, UTSA students and their families are invited to the party featuring food, swag, dancing and a special performance from the Spirit of San Antonio marching band.
Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
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