Highly regulated virulence genes and genomic instability found in the horse pathogen, burkholderia mallei
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 bacteriums 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).
Robert Koenig | EurekAlert!
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