DURHAM, NC - Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus neoformans -- a fungus responsible for a million cases of pneumonia and meningitis every year -- are so malleable and dangerous. Now researchers have sequenced the entire genome and all the RNA products of the most important pathogenic lineage of Cryptococcus neoformans, a strain called H99. The results, which appear April 17 in PLOS Genetics, also describe a number of genetic changes that can occur after laboratory handling of H99 that make it more susceptible to stress, hamper its ability to sexually reproduce and render it less virulent.
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