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Single gene lets bacteria jump from host to host
Date:2/1/2009

estion that has been around a long time in the area of pathogenesis," says Ruby. One line of thought is that "in order to become a pathogen, a whole suite of genes needs to be imported to a bacterium."

The new finding by his group, however, suggests that nature is far more parsimonious: Instead of requiring organisms to acquire many new genes to occupy a new host, the combination of a new regulatory gene and genes that already reside in a bacterium is enough to do the trick.

"Together, they can do something neither of them could do before. They can mix and match and open up new niches," says Ruby.

Knowing that a regulatory gene plays a key role in allowing an organism to fit a new host may prove useful in human medicine as many bacterial pathogens arose first in other animals before infecting humans. A single gene can be a much easier target for a drug or other intervention to prevent or mitigate infection, the Wisconsin scientists say.


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Contact: Mark J. Mandel
mmandel@wisc.edu
608-262-5550
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

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