- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
New S. pneumoniae Genome Published
20 July 2001 7:00 pm
Researchers have sequenced the entire genome of a virulent strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacterium that readily moves from the throat to invade the lungs, blood, or brain, and kills millions of children and elderly people every year. The work should help provide targets for better drugs against S. pneumoniae, which is increasingly becoming resistant to existing therapies, as well as vaccines.
A team led by Claire Fraser and Hervé Tettelin of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland, began the sequencing project in 1996, but progress was slowed by a series of technical problems and a split with the institute's original sponsor, Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, Maryland, that caused a temporary funding drought. Although TIGR made most of the raw sequence data available in 1997, the team took several more years to finish the sequencing and characterize the genes, a process called annotation.
Meanwhile, several companies were busy sequencing other S. pneumoniae strains. GlaxoSmithKline's Damien McDevitt predicts that "there are at least 10 genomes out there from different companies." So far, however, only two have been made public. A team led by Jose García-Bustos of GlaxoSmithKline's molecular microbiology division in Tres Cantos, Spain, published the annotated but incomplete genome of a virulent, antibiotic-resistant S. pneumoniae strain in the June issue of Microbial Drug Resistance. A team at Eli Lilly published an incomplete genome of a widely studied, nonvirulent lab strain in 1998, and a more complete version is in press at the Journal of Bacteriology.
Comparing multiple genomes is key for stopping S. pneumoniae, because 92 strains infect humans--and researchers would like to protect against them all. In their paper, which appears in this week's issue of Science, the TIGR team has taken a step in that direction by comparing its strain with the two incomplete published ones. This revealed that about 10% of the genes in the virulent TIGR strain are missing in the other two. That and sequence analysis pointed to several genes that may be important for infection.
Among those are a group that encode enzymes that the microbe uses to weaken biological membranes, which may help it invade tissues and spread throughout the body. The analysis also showed that the bacterium seems very adept at shuffling its genes--an ability that may help it evade the immune system. This "thrilling view" of the S. pneumoniae genome offers "a [new] glimpse into the lifestyle of the organism," says microbiologist Alexander Tomasz of Rockefeller University in New York City.
The Streptococcus pneumoniae Genome Diversity Project
More information about S. pneumoniae, on a site supported by vaccine manufacturer Wyeth-Lederle
List of the more than 45 microbial genomes so far completed, with links to others still in progress