TWiM 20 Letters

Atila writes:

Dear TWiMers,

The episode 7, about toxins and antitoxins made me think about the relationship between the bacteria and its plasmids, so I would like to share some speculations I made, without reading more about it (as my graduate project with HIV does not let me read about much else). What I would do if I were the plasmid, or what evolution could do to it:

If I were a plasmid coding for a toxin and an anti-toxin, I would make my toxin small and soluble, so it could diffuse away from the bacterial cell. At the same time, I would code for a large and hydrophobic anti-toxin that would get stuck inside of the cell. So, when a bacteria acquired me, I would make it retain me to live, and at the same time kill all neighbors that didn't have the same idea. They have to acquire me as well or they die. This could explain why TB has so many addiction modules, if it loses some, it may die from the toxin secreted by a neighbor.

Now that all the population has a copy of me inside them, and no other bacteria can grow around them, I can make an anti-toxin that responds to a quorum sensing molecule such as a piece of G6PDH. So, I not only guarantee that only my bacteria survives, I also control  that it grows in a controlled manner. Do you think this may be the case in nature?

Congratulations for the great podcast. I have been listening to fantastic discussions about microbiology coming from you and your guests, it is an unique opportunity for someone at Brazil (and other countries, as I imagine) to listen to these scientific conversations. Keep up the nice work.


Alexey writes:

Big thanks for the show, Vincent and co.

I'm 23-year old economist from snowy Russia. About a year ago I got interested in synthetic biology and since than have been learning a lot about genomics, microbiology, biochemistry etc (not without help of your podcasts, which I listen on my way to and from work). But I'm still mostly impressed by the prospects of using biology to create Cialis lifeforms, which can be used to efficiently produce or recycle needed chemical compounds.

Based on stated above i have 2 episode requests/propositions 1. Since I'm 23, I would love to study Biology more in-depth. It would be very helpful (I believe not only for me) to do the survey of existing microbiology related study possibilities and interesting programs in US, Canada or whatever you got detailed information about 2. Since Vincent is virologist, TWiM tends to be disease/infections focused (as TWiP and TWiV). I would really appreciate to hear an episode about non-medical Microbiology application, s.t. Venter's synthetic life creation or current state of affairs in using bacteria to create fuel - in other words something synthetic biology or bioengineering related.

One more time huge thanks for the podcast. It helps people having nothing in common with microbiology except interest not to completely be out of touch.

With respect

Artur writes:

Hi Vincent and Friends,
Great show, always interesting, fantastic speakers, keep up the great work!

I was listening to the #19 podcast, and Michael Schmidt mentioned briefly about the debunking of CC5 mutation and susceptibility to HIV infection in early literature (28 min mark).  I've heard of the CCR5 gene and that having a mutation in it makes a person "resistant to HIV infection", but I"m not sure if that's what Michael was referring to.  I've tried to find more info on what Michael briefly mentioned but searching for CC5 and HIV hasn't resulted in much useful information or answers.  Would you be able to discuss this topic and go more into what was meant by the debunking of the CC5 mutation.


Peter writes:

Dear Doctors I would like your thoughts on this.
My local doctors surgery has automatic doors so you don't have to touch the door handles, however if you have an appointment booked then you register your arrival by using a touch screen monitor. To me it does not seem to be a particularly good idea get loads of people with ill health to touch the same object. There is no antiseptic hand gel to clean your hands after using the touch screen.

Am I right to be concerned.

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