ROCKVILLE, MD Investigators at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) today announced that they have determined the complete genome sequence of a virulent isolate (a very infectious strain) of Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus, the bacterium which causes over 3 million children and even more elderly people to die every year from pneumonia or meningitis. It is also the most common cause of otitis media or ear infection.
Herv Tettelin, Ph.D., principal investigator for the project, led the team at TIGR that determined the order of all of the 2.16 million individual chemical base units making up S. pneumoniaes DNA. This study, reported in the July 20 issue of Science, represents the 26th genome sequencing project completed by TIGR.
S. pneumoniae is one of the most significant bacterial pathogens of humans in terms of morbidity and mortality and this situation is compounded by a progressive increase in antibiotic resistance, particularly to penicillin and to other commonly used antibiotics, that has been observed worldwide. This increased resistance complicates the ability to treat pneumococcal infections and is focusing greater attention on prevention strategies. Undoubtedly, the availability of the complete genome sequence will provide additional avenues for follow-up studies on the basic biology and pathogenicity of this important pathogen.
Genome analysis revealed a number of novel insights relevant to the biology of S. pneumoniae including: the observation that 5% of the genome is composed of repeats (pieces of DNA that are found in several locations in the genome) that may facilitate incorporation of foreign DNA into the S. pneumoniae chromosome and contribute to rearranging its structure; the description of a new sequence motif that may be involved in bringing proteins to the surface of the bacteria, including virulence factors and a novel large protein composed of 540 repeat modules that could play a role in adhesion to huma
Contact: Sharon Dukes
The Institute for Genomic Research