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Chopping and changing in the microbial world: How mycoplasmas – the simplest bacterial pathogens – stay alive

Date:
September 10, 2010
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
Pathogenic bacteria have evolved a variety of mechanisms to avoid being killed by the immune systems of the humans and animals they invade. Among the most sophisticated is that practiced by mycoplasmas, which regularly change their surface proteins to confuse the immune system. Recent work has revealed surprising new details of the way they do so and at the same time raised important evolutionary questions.

Mycoplasma agalactiae grown in culture on a special agar medium. The "fried egg" shapes with a dense centre are typical for mycoplasmas. The yellowish-white colonies represent mycoplasmas that have lost particular parts of their DNA due to the activity of a special enzyme, a recombinase; the blue colonies represent mycoplasmas in which the recombinase gene has been knocked out so that DNA can no longer be lost.
Credit: Copyright: Vetmeduni Vienna/Stefan Czurda

Pathogenic bacteria have evolved a variety of mechanisms to avoid being killed by the immune systems of the humans and animals they invade. Among the most sophisticated is that practised by mycoplasmas, which regularly change their surface proteins to confuse the immune system. Recent work in the group of Renate Rosengarten and Rohini Chopra-Dewasthaly at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna has revealed surprising new details of the way they do so and at the same time raised important evolutionary questions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Czurda et al. Xer1-Mediated Site-Specific DNA Inversions and Excisions in Mycoplasma agalactiae. Journal of Bacteriology, 2010; 192 (17): 4462 DOI: 10.1128/JB.01537-09

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Chopping and changing in the microbial world: How mycoplasmas – the simplest bacterial pathogens – stay alive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908102055.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2010, September 10). Chopping and changing in the microbial world: How mycoplasmas – the simplest bacterial pathogens – stay alive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908102055.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Chopping and changing in the microbial world: How mycoplasmas – the simplest bacterial pathogens – stay alive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908102055.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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