Mining for hidden gems in the genetic material of bacteria
A new perspective article highlights how bioinformatics tools can help us discover new genes and regulatory circuits in the networks of cell-to-cell-signaling in bacteria.
Figure 1. Hidden gems identified in the competence for natural transformation in Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium found in the oral cavity and often linked to dental caries. Photo: Roger Junges, IOB/UIO.
Researchers from the Institute of Oral Biology (IOB) have recently published a perspective article discussing how bioinformatics tools can help us understand cell-to-cell communication in bacteria. With this, different components of the system are revealed and previous pathways are revisited. In accordance, the authors show several instances in which new discoveries were made by relying on the power of measuring gene expression at a whole-genome level and on the visual mapping of each genetic feature to the genome.
Cell-to-cell communication in bacteria is important for the coordination of group behavior such as biofilm formation, virulence, and genetic exchange. The system that regulates genetic exchange is referred to as natural transformation and it gains increased attention as an important behavioral function in light of the antimicrobial resistance crisis. In this recent article published in Frontiers, Prof. Fernanda Petersen and postdocs Roger Junges and Gabriela Salvadori discuss how bioinformatics and appropriate experiment design can help us better understand this important function.
The article was an important collaborative effort with Prof. Donald A. Morrison from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Dr. George Chen from the Forsyth Institute. The fruitful collaboration has been ongoing for several years, and in 2018 was awarded a three-year 4,5 M NOK International Partnerships for Excellent Education, Research and Innovation (INTPART) grant from the Directorate for Internationalization and Quality Exchange (DIKU) and the Norwegian Research Council (NFR). Read more about INTPART here.
Junges R, Salvadori G, Chen T, Morrison DA, Petersen FC. Hidden Gems in the Transcriptome Maps of Competent Streptococci. Front Mol Biosci. 2019 Jan 4; 5:116.
doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2018.00116. eCollection 2018.