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Researchers discover 'acquired' DNA key to certain bacterial infection

to antibiotics – already a problem – may be increasing. In contrast, the incidence of lung infection in patients with chronic lung diseases and cystic fibrosis is increasing.

Understanding the mechanism by how M. avium penetrates the macrophage and infects humans may eventually lead to interventions that can prevent, or at least, reduce the chance of infections, though Bermudez cautioned that it is early in the process.

“We still don’t know what most of the individual genes do,” he said, “and none of the DNA sequences match those in known databases.”

The researchers did discover that one of the genes provides coding for a protein that targets action in the host cell, which may help the bacterium survive in the macrophage.

Bermudez said the researchers learned the genetic “island” was acquired from another bacterium because of its unique nucleotide structure, which differs from its Mycobacterium cousins. Such evolution likely took place over thousands of years, he pointed out, and may have come from a pathogen which also has the ability to infect environmental amoeba.
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Source:Oregon State University


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