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Scientists Find RNA Surprises in Listeria Bacteria

A team at the Pasteur Institute has taken a big step towards better understanding the molecular mechanisms that transform Listeria from a harmless soil-dweller to a dangerous human pathogen by mapping the genes that Listeria expresses under different environmental conditions.

The researchers identified one particular protein, SigB, that controls a series of genes that are needed for Listeria to adapt to the human gut, whereas a different protein, PrfA, switches on genes needed for survival and replication in the blood. By comparing mutant and wild-type bacteria, they identified two non-coding RNAs that appear to contribute to the virulence of L. monocytogenes.

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