Enzyme defends germ against stomach acid

2:19pm, June 6, 2001

The ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori thrives where most other living things get chemically minced into bits–the acidic environment of the human stomach. Scientists are divided on exactly how H. pylori combats acid, but they agree on one thing: The enzyme urease has a lot to do with it.

Now, Byung-Ha Oh of Pohang University in Korea and his colleagues have brought into the debate the three-dimensional structure of the H. pylori urease. Their results, they say, bolster a previously proposed mechanism in which urease that coats the bacterial surface acts as an acid-neutralizing shield.

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