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Research reveals genetic makeup of salmonella responsible for food poisoning

St. Louis, Oct.24, 2001 Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have mapped and sequenced the genome for a bacterium that is a leading cause of food poisoning worldwide: Salmonella typhimurium. The sequence has yielded new potential targets for future drug and vaccine development and gives possible insights into how the bacterium causes disease. The work is published in the Oct. 25 issue of the journal Nature.

Typhimurium infects humans, cattle, chickens, and other warm-blooded animals. The rod-shaped bacterium is important in bacterial-genetics research, and disabled strains are used in live vaccines and to deliver anti-cancer drugs to tumor cells. It also causes a typhoid-fever-like illness in mice that is used as a model for studies related to human typhoid fever. Typhimurium is thought to be responsible for an estimated 1.4 million cases of food poisoning in the United States each year, and about a 1,000 deaths. The intestinal illness usually resolves on its own, but sometimes the bacterium enters the bloodstream causing an infection that may be fatal if not treated with antibiotics. But that is becoming increasingly difficult.

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in Typhimurium, says principal investigator Richard Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor of genetics and co-director of the Genome Sequencing Center at the School of Medicine. Ideally, we hope this work will identify possible new drug targets and reduce the threat of ever-more resistant strains of the bacterium.

In addition to researchers at Washington University, the Typhimurium team included investigators at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego; the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada; and Pennsylvania State University.

The investigators identified 4,595 suspected genes in the Typhimurium genome, many of which were previously unknown. They include 156 probable membrane proteins that are potential drug or vaccine targets.

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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
wardd@msnotes.wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
24-Oct-2001


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