Fusobacterium nucleatum, a bacterial strain commonly found in the mouth, promotes the formation of colon tumors in animals and is abnormally abundant in human colorectal tumors. Investigators have now determined how the bacterial species travels through the body to localize to colorectal tumors (Abed J et al. Cell Host Microbe. 2016;20:215-225). A team led by researchers at The Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine in Israel found that a fusobacterial protein relies on a host polysaccharide for tumor enrichment. Specifically, fusobacterial Fap2 binds to the glycan d-galactose-β(1-3)-N-acetyl-d-galactosamine (Gal-GalNAc), which is overexpressed in colorectal cancer cells.
Hampton T. How Oral Microbes Exacerbate Colorectal Cancer. JAMA. 2016;316(13):1349. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.14157