Episode Summary

DNA from related species can kill certain pathogens when they incorporate it into their genome!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Ungulate tetraparvovirus 3

Jesse's takeaways

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that cause gonorrhea, have the unusual ability of taking up DNA from their surroundings at any time and making use of it in their own genome. This helps them acquire useful traits that help them survive better, such as antibiotic resistance. But it turns out that the ability is also a secret weakness!

This study showed that when N. gonorrhoeae takes up DNA from harmless, commensal species of Neisseria in the body, the DNA is similar enough to be incorporated into the genome but different enough that it kills the pathogen. This effect also occurs with a serious pathogen in the same genus, N. meningitidis.

Journal Paper

Kim WJ, Higashi D, Goytia M, Rendón MA, Pilligua-Lucas M, Bronnimann M, McLean JA, Duncan J, Trees D, Jerse AE, So M. 2019. Commensal Neisseria Kill Neisseria gonorrhoeae through a DNA-Dependent Mechanism. Cell Host Microbe 26:228-239.e8.

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