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Citrobacter rodentium uses a type III secretion system (T3SS) to induce colonic crypt hyperplasia in mice, thereby gaining an edge during its competition with the gut microbiota through an unknown mechanism. Here, we show that by triggering colonic crypt hyperplasia, the C. rodentium T3SS induced an excessive expansion of undifferentiated Ki67-positive epithelial cells, which increased oxygenation of the mucosal surface and drove an aerobic C. rodentium expansion in the colon. Treatment of mice with the γ-secretase inhibitor dibenzazepine to diminish Notch-driven colonic crypt hyperplasia curtailed the fitness advantage conferred by aerobic respiration during C. rodentium infection. We conclude that C. rodentium uses its T3SS to induce histopathological lesions that generate an intestinal microenvironment in which growth of the pathogen is fueled by aerobic respiration.
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