Another Bacteria DNA Trick

Posted on December 15, 2007  Comments (2)

A DNA shift never before seen in nature

For several decades, researchers have known that it is possible to modify synthetic oligonucleotides (short strands of DNA) by adding sulfur to the sugar-phosphate DNA backbone as a phosphorothioate. Researchers often use such modifications in the laboratory to make DNA resistant to nucleases (enzymes that snip DNA in certain locations) as a step toward gene and antisense therapies of human diseases.

Dedon said he and his co-workers were surprised to discover that a group of bacterial genes, known as the dnd gene cluster, gives bacteria the ability to employ the same modification on their own. “It turns out that nature has been using phosphorothioate modifications of DNA all along, and we just didn’t know about it,” he said.

He theorizes that the modification system might serve as either protection against foreign (unmodified) DNA, or as a “bookmark” to assist with transcription or replication of DNA.

Bacteria really are amazing. I am starting to read more about bacteria and virus so maybe I will post more on these topics over the next few months.

Related: Where Bacteria Get Their GenesBacteria parasite DNA found within DNA of hostFighting Bacteria by Blocking DNA Replication

2 Responses to “Another Bacteria DNA Trick”

  1. Tammy Blanchard
    December 18th, 2007 @ 4:02 am

    John, you won’t have to wait long until the function of these structures is found. There is research on this subject pending at OSU. I personally believe that the purpose has nothing to do with the 2 theories mentioned above.

  2. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Stratification and Systemic Thinking
    January 6th, 2008 @ 2:49 pm

    “I have recently taken to reading more and more about viruses, bacteria, cells, microbiology etc.: it is fascinating stuff.”

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