Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
ISBN: 9781337408332



Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
ISBN: 9781337408332
Textbook Problem

Cholera is a disease caused by bacteria that make cholera toxin. In the presence of this toxin, chloride ion channels in cells of the small intestine lining are stuck in their open position. As a result, an excess of chloride ions (Cl) flows from these cells into the lumen of the small intestine. Movement of Cl creates a charge gradient, so sodium ions (Na+) also flow into the lumen. Explain why the movement of these ions into the lumen results in the life-threatening diarrhea that characterizes cholera.

Summary Introduction

To explain: The relation between the movement of ions into the lumen and occurrence of life-threatening diarrhea (cholera).

Introduction: Cholera is an infectious disease of small intestine caused by the secretion of bacterial toxin by Vibrio cholerae. This disease is characterized by severe diarrhea and dehydration due to the loss of large quantity of water. In cholera, chloride ion channels are the main reason for the excess water loss (dehydration) from the body.


Ion channels of a cell are the membrane proteins that allow the ions to pass in and out of the cell. These membrane channels will be closed in normal condition, a chemical (ligand) molecule acts as the key that opens the channel for the movement of ions through it. A chloride ion channel that is used to adjust the water levels in the body allows the chlorine ions to flow in and out of the cell. Higher concentration of chloride ions outside the cell opens the ion channel and forces the water to leave the cell by osmosis and vice versa. This is how the water level in the cell is maintained by the chloride ion channels.

The bacteria Vibrio cholerae produces a bacterial toxin that binds to the receptors present on the cell wall of intestinal cells...

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