Research press release


Nature Communications

Genetics: Evolution of a killer


軽度の胃腸障害を引き起こす仮性結核菌がペスト菌に進化したのは、過去1万年の間のことだった。ペスト菌は、腺ペスト、敗血症ペスト、そして、最も致命的で感染性の高い肺ペストなどさまざまなペストを引き起こす。今回、Wyndham Lathemたちは、仮性結核菌とペスト菌の中間的な系統にあたる「古代の」ペスト菌の分離株を用いて、ペスト菌の進化をたどり、こうした変遷の過程を明らかにした。


The plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis first evolved the ability to cause often fatal, pneumonic disease and then developed its highly infectious nature, a study in this week’s Nature Communications reveals. The transitions were underpinned by relatively simple molecular changes, suggesting that other respiratory pathogens could possibly emerge via a similar route.

Sometime in the last 10,000 years, the bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which causes mild gastrointestinal problems, evolved into Yersinia pestis, which causes different types of plague including bubonic, septicemic and the most deadly and infectious form, pneumonic plague. Wyndham Lathem and colleagues now use ‘ancestral’ isolates of Y. pestis, representing intermediate lineages between the two species, to retrace the evolution of the bacteria and show how this transition occurred.

Ancient strains of Y. pestis acquired a single gene that gave them the ability to cause pneumonic plague. Then later, a single amino acid change in the protein encoded by that gene was enough to make more modern strains of the bacteria highly infectious. The result was a perfect storm; a bacterium that is not only deadly, but that has the potential for pandemic spread.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms8487

「Nature 関連誌注目のハイライト」は、ネイチャー広報部門が報道関係者向けに作成したリリースを翻訳したものです。より正確かつ詳細な情報が必要な場合には、必ず原著論文をご覧ください。

メールマガジンリストの「Nature 関連誌今週のハイライト」にチェックをいれていただきますと、毎週最新のNature 関連誌のハイライトを皆様にお届けいたします。