How disease-causing microbes load their tiny syringes to prep an attack

Swallow the wrong microbe, and you might end up in the hospital with a needle or two in your arm — and plenty of itty-bitty bacterial needles poking at you from the inside. That’s because many bacteria that make us sick use microscopic, syringelike structures to inject our cells with proteins that wreak havoc from the inside. Now, researchers have shown how these microbes load their nanoscale needles with proteins.

Tracking individual proteins as they jittered around inside living bacteria revealed the microbes use a shuttle bus–like system to load their syringes: shuttle proteins travel random paths within the microbes’ interiors, grabbing cargo destined for injection as they go

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