Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Decipher Genetic Code Of Biothreat Pathogen

Date:
September 22, 2004
Source:
The Institute For Genomic Research
Summary:
More than 2,400 years after Hippocrates first described the symptoms of glanders, scientists have deciphered the genetic code of the ancient pathogen that causes the horse disease: Burkholderia mallei.

Rockville, MD – More than 2,400 years after Hippocrates first described the symptoms of glanders, scientists have deciphered the genetic code of the ancient pathogen that causes the horse disease: Burkholderia mallei.

The study found that B. mallei, a highly evolved pathogen that has been deployed in the past as a biological weapon, has an extremely regulated set of virulence genes and an unstable genome that may explain the bacterium's ability to thwart the immune responses of its host animals – mainly horses, mules and donkeys.

"The combination of virulence genes and genomic instability may explain why some scientists consider this to be the ultimate bacterial pathogen," says William Nierman, the first author of the study, which is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

As part of the study, scientists used DNA microarrays to better understand the functions of B. mallei virulence genes. Nierman, an investigator at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), said the new study, along with a report on the related bacterium B. pseudomallei published in the same issue of PNAS, "has dramatically increased our understanding of the biology and pathogenicity of these very sophisticated pathogens."

Even though the symptoms of glanders have been known since the description by Hippocrates in 425 B.C., scientists have yet to develop a vaccine that is effective against this highly infectious equine disease. When humans are infected, treatment requires a long-term regimen of multiple antibiotics. A test developed by German scientists after B. mallei was isolated in 1882 greatly improved the early detection of the disease in horses. Glanders was eradicated in the United States by the 1930s.

Cultures of B. mallei were used as biological weapons during the U.S. Civil War, World War I and World War II. In addition, there have been reports that the Soviet Union weaponized the pathogen and possibly used it during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

TIGR collaborated on the B. mallei study with a research team led by David DeShazer, a glanders expert with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Frederick, MD. The parallel study of B. pseudomallei, which causes the disease melioidosis in humans, was conducted by a team led by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom.

The B. mallei study was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Following up the genome analysis, TIGR is now examining several other strains and isolates of B. mallei and B. pseudomallei under an NIAID microbial sequencing contract.

"Using the tools of comparative genomics, scientists will be able to deepen the understanding of the molecular reasons why these related pathogens have such different impacts, in terms of their target hosts and their pathogenicity," says TIGR President Claire Fraser, the study's senior author.

###

The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) is a not-for-profit research institute based in Rockville, Maryland. TIGR, which sequenced the first complete genome of a free-living organism in 1995, has been at the forefront of the genomic revolution since the institute was founded in 1992. TIGR conducts research involving the structural, functional, and comparative analysis of genomes and gene products in viruses, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Institute For Genomic Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Institute For Genomic Research. "Scientists Decipher Genetic Code Of Biothreat Pathogen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040921073859.htm>.
The Institute For Genomic Research. (2004, September 22). Scientists Decipher Genetic Code Of Biothreat Pathogen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040921073859.htm
The Institute For Genomic Research. "Scientists Decipher Genetic Code Of Biothreat Pathogen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040921073859.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) A great white shark is spotted off the shore at Duxbury beach in Massachusetts forcing beach goers out of the water. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) A young bull elk wandered inside the office building of a company in Dresden, Germany on Monday. The elk became trapped between a wall and glass windows while rescue workers tried to rescue him safely. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins