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Bacterial genes tell the tale of an outbreak's evolution
Date:11/13/2011

LPS), also known as endotoxin. The Priebe lab and collaborators had previously observed an unusual degree of LPS variation among B. dolosa strains and now had a genetic mechanism to explain it. "That finding was a real 'aha' moment for me," said Priebe, who suggested that the enzyme could be disappearing as the bacteria adapted to evade the immune system, adhere to its host or improve a function still undiscovered.

But other challenges were a surprise, for example propelling furious changes in genes linked to growth under low-oxygen conditions typical of the lung of a CF patient. "This method suggests therapeutic directions we didn't know were important," Michel said, "and drug targets we didn't know existed."

The team's findings could help researchers better understand a pathogen's strengths and weaknesses, the mechanisms by which it adapts to our defenses, and potential targets for new therapies. The researchers next hope to study the diversity generated by a pathogen's evolution within a single patient, to learn more about the different challenges posed throughout the human body.

The questions are still evolving.


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Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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