Skip to comments.Resurrection of 3-billion-year-old antibiotic-resistance proteins
Posted on 03/19/2013 9:47:51 PM PDT by neverdem
Scientists are reporting "laboratory resurrections" of several 2-3-billion-year-old proteins that are ancient ancestors of the enzymes that enable today's antibiotic-resistant bacteria to shrug off huge doses of penicillins, cephalosporins and other modern drugs. The achievement, reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, opens the door to a scientific "replay" of the evolution of antibiotic resistance with an eye to finding new ways to cope with the problem.
Jose M. Sanchez-Ruiz, Eric A. Gaucher, Valeria A. Risso and colleagues explain that antibiotic resistance existed long before Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic in 1928. Genes that contain instructions for making the proteins responsible for antibiotic resistance have been found in 30,000-year-old permafrost sediment and other ancient sites. Their research focused on the so-called beta-lactamases, enzymes responsible for resistance to the family of antibiotics that includes penicillin, which scientists believe originated billions of years ago.
They describe using laboratory and statistical techniques to reconstruct the sequences of beta-lactamase proteins dating to Precambrian times, 2-3 billion years ago. The team also synthesized the inferred ancestral enzymes and conducted studies on their stability, structure and function. "The availability of laboratory resurrections of Precambrian beta-lactamases opens up new possibilities in the study of the emergence of antibiotic resistance," the report states. "For instance, it should now be possible to perform laboratory replays of the molecular tape of lactamase evolution and use such replays to probe the molecular determinants of the efficiency of lactamases to adapt to different types of antibiotics." The authors also note that the extreme stability and catalytic features displayed by the 2-3-billion-year-old lactamases suggest that resurrected Precambrian proteins have utility for the biotechnology industry.
Source : American Chemical Society
uh oh ping
What could POSSIBLY go wrong???/s;)
“Life finds a way.”
Oh no. It's the Andromeda Strain...
Evolution tends to conserve that which is useful.
Agreed. This reads like the start of a horror story. We were playing with ancient bacteria to which we have no resistance and studied their antibiotic resistance in the lab. Now, all we need is a scene like the intro to the 1970s UK TV show “Pandemic”, with a dropped vial and a traveling scientist.
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Thanks gleeaikin.Genes that contain instructions for making the proteins responsible for antibiotic resistance have been found in 30,000-year-old permafrost sediment and other ancient sites.Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
Here is something of interest a little closer in time re Neandertals.