The General Idea
In order to help guard against infections of the gut, we wish to engineer a strain of E. coli capable of killing bacterial pathogens. White blood cells (neutrophils in particular) are already very efficient at killing bacteria. They do this by engulfing the bacteria and exposing it to a bombardment of reactive oxygen species. These include superoxide, hydrogen peroxide and hydrochlorous acid. The reactive oxygen species kill the bacteria by shredding any biological molecule they come in contact with by way of their potent oxidizing properties. However neutrophils are not able to migrate to the large intestinal lumen where pathogens can reside. Because bacteria are well adapted to live in the gut, this project’s goal is to engineer a strain of E. coli to seek out and kill invading bacterial pathogens by means of a sudden burst of hydrogen peroxide.