Predator Phages Competing In The Gut

A team led by Lora V. Hooper, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and including UT Arlington assistant professor of biology Jorge Rodrigues examined the bacteriophages, or phages, produced by genetic information harbored in the chromosome of the mammalian gut bacterium Enterococcus faecalis. They found that a phage unique to Enterococcus faecalis strain V583 in mice acts as a predator, infecting and harming other similar, competing bacterial strains. They believe these lab results suggest what goes on in the human intestine.

“This organism is using phage as a way to compete in your gut. If the phage is released and gets rid of all the other microbes, then strain V583 will have more nutrients available,” Rodrigues said. “It opens up new questions about the role of phages in the gut system. Ultimately, you could use this as a technique to control bacteria in a natural way.”

The findings were presented in October in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in a paper called, “A composite bacteriophage alters colonization by an intestinal commensal bacterium.” Other co-authors were members of Hooper’s lab: Breck A. Duerkop, Charmaine V. Clements and Darcy Rollins.

Salmonella Targets Specific Cells to Facilitate Crossing The Gut Wall

Scientists have gained fresh insights into how the salmonella bug makes us ill. University of Edinburgh researchers have found that the bacteria are able to change key cells that line the intestine, enabling the bugs to thrive. 

By changing the make-up of these cells, the salmonella bacteria are able to cross the gut wall.   Research was reported in Cell Host and Microbe. 

Adhesive From Mussels Inspires Blood Vessel “Glue”

Dec. 11, 2012 — A University of British Columbia researcher has helped create a gel — based on the mussel’s knack for clinging to rocks, piers and boat hulls — that can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels and stay put, forming a protective barrier with potentially life-saving implications.

Co-invented by Assistant Professor Christian Kastrup while a postdoctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the gel is similar to the amino acid that enables mussels to resist the power of churning water. The variant that Kastrup and his collaborators created, described in the current issue of the online journal PNAS Early Edition, can withstand the flow of blood through arteries and veins.

The gel’s “sheer strength” could shore up weakened vessel walls at risk of rupturing — much like the way putty can fill in dents in a wall, says Kastrup, a member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Michael Smith Laboratories.

By forming a stable barrier between blood and the vessel walls, the gel could also prevent the inflammation that typically occurs when a stent is inserted to widen a narrowed artery or vein; that inflammation often counteracts the opening of the vessel that the stent was intended to achieve.

Recommended Readings: Svante Pääbo, Ph.D.

Friday Lecture Series

Fairfield Osborn Memorial Lecture

A Molecular Perspective on Human Origins

Svante Pääbo, Ph.D., director, department of genetics,

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

 December 14, 2012

3:45 p.m.-5:00 p.m. (Refreshments, 3:15 p.m., Abby Lounge)

Caspary Auditorium

Recommended Readings

Brawand, D., Soumillon, M., Necsulea, A., Julien, P., Csárdi, G., Harrigan, P., . . . Kaessmann, H. (2011). The evolution of gene expression levels in mammalian organs. Nature, 478(7369), 343-348

Green, R. E., Krause, J., Briggs, A. W., Maricic, T., Stenzel, U., Kircher, M., . . . Pääbo, S. (2010). A draft sequence of the neandertal genome. Science, 328(5979), 710-722

Hu, H. Y., Guo, S., Xi, J., Yan, Z., Fu, N., Zhang, X., . . . Khaitovich, P. (2011). MicroRNA expression and regulation in human, chimpanzee, and macaque brains. PLoS Genetics, 7(10)

Krause, J., Briggs, A. W., Kircher, M., Maricic, T., Zwyns, N., Derevianko, A., & Pääbo, S. (2010). A complete mtDNA genome of an early modern human from kostenki, russia. Current Biology, 20(3), 231-236

Krause, J., Fu, Q., Good, J. M., Viola, B., Shunkov, M. V., Derevianko, A. P., & Pääbo, S. (2010). The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern siberia. Nature, 464(7290), 894-897

Xu, A. G., He, L., Li, Z., Xu, Y., Li, M., Fu, X., . . . Khaitovich, P. (2010). Intergenic and repeat transcription in human, chimpanzee and macaque brains measured by RNA-seq. PLoS Computational Biology, 6(7), 37


Attend Webinar Report Dec 14: Global Burden of Disease 2010

Global Burden of Disease 2010 – 14th December 2012

On 14th December 2012 The Lancet together with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) will host an event to present the findings of the 2010 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. This unprecedented project has been completed in collaboration with more than 400 researchers in over 300 institutions across 50 countries, led by the IHME and a consortium of five other partners: Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Queensland, University of Tokyo and WHO.

The study began in 2007 and is the most comprehensive effort since the GBD 1990 to produce complete and comparable estimates of the burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors for the years 1990, 2005, and 2010 for 21 regions covering the entire globe. The GBD 2010 Study is significantly broader in scope than previous versions, including:

• 235 causes of death
• 67 risk factors
• Improved methods for the estimation of mortality and disability

Watch the event live via webcast

Taking place at The Royal Society in London, the event is open to everyone and because we realise that on a practical level many interested parties won’t be able to attend in person, it will be broadcast live via webcast for anyone who chooses to tune in at

Elsevier Offers Free Access to 2012 Nobel Laureates Most Cited Papers

Elsevier congratulates the 2012 Nobel Laureates and is proud to honor their revolutionary research in the fields of Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics.  All eight Nobel scientists have connections with Elsevier, publishing journal articles and book chapters and serving as journal editors or members of editorial boards.  In recognition of these extraordinary scholars and their contributions to science, we are pleased to provide free access on ScienceDirect to their most-cited ground-breaking research published in Elsevier journals.

Dr. John Gurdon and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka share the award in physiology or medicine for discovering that mature, specialized cells can be reprogrammed into immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body. Their key individual research findings into so-called stem cells were separated by 50 years.