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Bacteria see the light

Light-activated proteins regulate virulence

Charles Q. Choi
Blue-light-sensing proteins unexpectedly help regulate virulence in at least one species of infectious bacteria, and the mechanism might prove common among other microbes, according to a study published this week in Science."There's a whole universe of bacterial photobiology to be uncovered," John Kennis at Vrije University in Amsterdam, who did not participate in this study, told The Scientist. Kennis cowrote a commentary published with the new findings.About a decade ago, researchers found that certain plant photoreceptors contain protein modules called light, oxygen, or voltage (LOV) domains, sequences roughly 110 amino acids long that absorb blue light. Since then, these domains have been identified in nearly 100 bacterial species. But because many of them are not photosynthetic and had no known or expected response to light, the function of LOV domains was unknown.Roberto Bogomolni at University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues investigated LOV domains in Brucella...

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