Future IBD Therapy May Draw on Gut Protein

Future IBD Therapy May Draw on Gut Protein
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center recently published the finding of a pathogen-sensing molecule that plays a key role in the maintenance of a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) system. The study is entitled “The DNA Sensor AIM2 Maintains Intestinal Homeostasis via Regulation of Epithelial Antimicrobial Host Defense” and appeared in the journal Cell Reports. A healthy human gut is known to have trillions of microorganisms (the gut microbiota), and while some are beneficial, others can induce disease. The body’s immune system plays a crucial role in identifying and killing pathogenic species, while beneficial microorganisms are preserved. The molecule AIM2 (an acronym for Absent in Melanoma 2) can be found in all immune and epithelial cells, which are the main type of cells present in the intestine. In the study, researchers found that AIM2 is able to detect the DNA of harmful pathogens and regulate inflammation in the gut, helping maintaining a healthy GI tract. “We've shown in an animal model that AIM2 detects the cytosolic presence of microbial DNA in the gut,” explained the study’s senior author, Dr. Hasan Zaki, Assistant Professor of Pathology at UT Southwestern, in a news release. “When AIM2 detects the DNA of pathogens in immune and epithelial cells, the protein activates a molecular machine called the inflammasome … The inflammasome in
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