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Master gene

作者:覃傺膨    发布时间:2019-03-08 08:05:06    

By Andy Coghlan THE gene that turns many bacteria into killers has finally been found. Stripping bacteria of the gene renders potentially lethal species harmless—a technique that could lead to the creation of a new arsenal of vaccines and antibiotics. Michael Mahan and his colleagues at the University of California in Santa Barbara isolated the “master” gene in the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium, which can cause fatal food poisoning. The gene codes for an enzyme called DNA adenine methylase (Dam), which jogs at least 20 disease-causing genes into action in the bacterium. The enzyme primes genes by adding methyl groups. Mice injected with a mutant strain of the bacterium that was unable to make the Dam enzyme remained healthy. This mutant strain also served as a potent vaccine, protecting mice from normal S. typhimurium and other forms of Salmonella (Science, vol 284, p967). The team is convinced that the enzyme plays the same role in other bacteria, including those that cause cholera, the plague, typhoid, syphilis and bloody diarrhoea. “We know the gene is in every diarrhoeal pathogen that’s been sequenced,

 

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