ABOVE: These E. coli with their membranes stained red fluoresce green when their DNA replication has stopped. This can occur in response to an excess of certain proteins linked to cancer.

In the human body, when cells pump out an excess of certain proteins, they can produce cancer-causing DNA mutations. Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas at Austin genetically modified E. coli bacteria so they could serve as sentinels for these proteins by making the microbes fluoresce when their DNA is damaged, the researchers reported January 10 in Cell. Although E. coli and humans differ in their biology, the researchers found that human varieties of hundreds of proteins identified by the glowing bacteria were more closely linked to cancer in people than a random group of proteins.   

J. Xia et al., “Bacteria-to-human protein networks reveal origins...

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?