How immune cells kill bacteria with acid
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IMAGE: This is a fluorescent microscopy picture of cells of a human macrophage cell line (THP-1), which was incubated with particles (beads) stained with a blue and a red dye; the… view more 

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Credit: CeMM/Ruth Eichner

The first line of immune defense against invading pathogens like bacteria are macrophages, immune cells that engulf every foreign object that crosses their way. After enclosing it in intracellular membrane vesicles, a process called phagocytosis, macrophages kill their prey with acid. However, it is not yet entirely understood how the acidification process is established. In their quest to systematically study proteins that transport chemicals across cellular membranes, researchers at CeMM characterized the critical role for transporter SLC4A7 in this process, providing valuable new insights for many pathologic conditions from inflammation to cancer. Their results were published in Cell Host & Microbe.

(Vienna the 17.05.2018) Among the many different kinds of immune cells that patrol the body, macrophages are the first when it comes to fight against a foreign threat. With their flexible and versatile surface, they engulf every microorganism or particle that could be harmful for the health of the organism, and enclose it in an intracellular membrane vesicle called phagosome. To eliminate the threat and break

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