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In the lab, scientists coax E. coli to resist radiation damage
Date:3/14/2014

ery quickly and start growing again."

Understanding the molecular machinery that allows some organisms to survive what would otherwise be lethal doses of radiation is important because the same bacterial machinery that repairs DNA and protects cells in microbes exists in humans and other organisms. Although turning the new findings into application is in the distant future, the results could ultimately contribute designer microbes capable of helping clean radioactive waste sites or making probiotics that could aid patients undergoing radiation therapy for some cancers.

The new study demonstrates that organisms can actively repair genetic damage from ionizing radiation. Prior to the new work, scientists thought the ability of cells to resist radiation stemmed primarily from their ability to detoxify the reactive oxygen molecules created by radiation within cells.

That passive detoxification approach, notes Cox, is most likely working in tandem with active mechanisms such as the mutations found by the Wisconsin group as well as other, yet-to-be-discovered mechanisms.

"This extreme resistance we're looking at is a complicated phenotype," says Cox. "There are likely additional mechanisms buried in this data and we're working to pull those out."


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Contact: Michael Cox
mcox@wisc.edu
608-262-1181
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

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