News of the WeekMicrobiology

S. pneumoniae Genome Falls to Sequencers

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Science  20 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5529, pp. 410
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5529.410

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Researchers have uncovered clues to just what makes Streptococcus pneumoniae, which kills millions every year, so savage. On page 498, researchers report the exact order of the 2.16 million bases that make up the genetic code of a virulent S. pneumoniae strain. By examining the sequence and comparing it with those of other strains, the team found that the microbe is particularly well equipped to invade the body's tissues. It also seems very adept at shuffling its genes-an ability that may help it evade the immune system.