Navigation Links
New study pinpoints why some microbial genes are more promiscuous than others
Date:3/16/2011

Durham, NC A new study of more than three dozen bacteria species including the microbes responsible for pneumonia, meningitis, stomach ulcers and plague settles a longstanding debate about why bacteria are more likely to steal some genes than others.

While most organisms get their genes from their parents just like people do, bacteria and other single-celled creatures also regularly pick up genes from more distant relatives. This ability to 'steal' snippets of DNA from other species known as lateral gene transfer is responsible for the rapid spread of drug resistance among disease-causing bacteria.

"By understanding why some genes are more likely to spread from one species to the next, we can better understand how new virulent bacterial strains emerge," said co-author Tal Pupko, a visiting scientist at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, NC.

Scientists have proposed several theories to explain why some bacterial genes are more likely to jump into other genomes. One theory, Pupko explained, is that it depends on what the gene does in the cell.

Genes involved in core functions, like converting RNA into protein, are much less likely to make the leap. "If a species already has the basic molecular machinery for transcription and translation, there's no advantage to taking in another set of genes that do the same thing," Pupko said.

Other studies suggest it's not what the gene does that matters, but how many proteins it interacts with a network researchers have dubbed the 'interactome.' Genes involved in transcription and translation, for example, must work in concert with many partners to do their job.

To find out which factor was more important what a gene does, or how connected it is the researchers looked for evidence of gene transfer in more than three dozen bacteria species, including a number of pathogens known to cause illness in people.

When they compared proteins with similar degrees of connectivity, the importance of gene function disappeared. "The reason some proteins are rarely acquired is because of how connected they are, not because of their function," said co-author Uri Gophna of Tel Aviv University.

Genes whose protein products rely on many partners to do their job are less likely to work properly in a new host, Gophna said. Transferring a highly connected gene into a new host is like importing a fax machine into a remote village, he explained. "While the machine itself is potentially useful, it needs a number of additional connections to work electricity, a phone line, a supply of paper, possibly a technician. If one of these is missing the machine becomes useless and ends up as junk."

Bacteria are more likely to adopt 'loner' genes than genes that are well-connected, the authors added. "If you think of the cell like a machine, it's much more difficult to exchange the hub of a machine than some of its accessories," Pupko said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Robin Ann Smith
rsmith@nescent.org
919-668-4544
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. £2 million study to reveal workings of dementia genes
3. New study looks to define evangelicals and how they affect polling
4. CU-Boulder study suggests air quality regulations miss key pollutants
5. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
6. Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas
7. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
8. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
9. New study indicates link between weight gains during pregnancy and dieting history
10. Study reveals specific gene in adolescent men with delinquent peers
11. Sweat it out: UH study examines ability of sweat patches to monitor bone loss
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016  BioMEMS ... are primarily focused on medical screening and ... point-of-care parameters. Wearable devices that facilitate and ... freedom of movement are being bolstered through ... human biomedical signal acquisition coupled with wireless ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016   Parabon NanoLabs ... the U.S. Army Research Office and the Defense ... and sensitivity of the company,s Snapshot Kinship ... Mission and, more generally, defense-related DNA forensics.  Although ... capabilities (predicting appearance and ancestry from DNA evidence), ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... wallet ( www.wocketwallet.com ) announces the launch of a new video featuring ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the Wocket booth ... , where Joey appeared at the Wocket booth to meet and ... at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2016) in Las Vegas ... fans. --> --> The video ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... Net-Translators, ... today the launch of its revamped and improved website. In an on-going effort ... the redesigned website will better communicate how the company designs and delivers thorough, ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 09, 2016 , ... The publishing ... Open Access publishing is one of the popular publication models that has received ... journals and 3000+ International Conferences across the globe, OMICS International ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... , February 9, 2016 Web ... paper and protect IP   E-WorkBook 10 ... rolled out in Germany early this ... valuable IP. Users will be able to search for information ... as part of the application, to boost collaboration and productivity. ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. (TSXV: BRM) ("Biorem" or "the Company") ... clean technology companies in the TSX Venture 50 TM . ... on the TSX Venture Exchange, in each of five major ... & life sciences, diversified industries and technology – based ... on investment, market cap growth, trading volume and analyst coverage. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: