A2: Microbes in the News

Summary

E.coli was used specifically to use its DNA in a research project conducted by Baylor College of Medicine. The team set out to look at the mechanisms of cancer-causing proteins when overproduced in a cell and e.coli was an ideal model because of its simplicity in structure. They genetically modified the bacteria so that it was illuminated red when there was DNA damage present. These specific proteins they reproduced were known to induce cancer but they wanted to know where the genome was specifically damaged.

How does it relate?

E.coli is a microbe that we’ve discussed during the past four weeks of class. It’s a model organism (cheap and easy to maintain in a lab setting) that is heavily studied which makes it an ideal microbe for research.

Critical Analysis

I found this summary of the actual article really easy to read and understand. It used a lot of common vocabulary most people could read it easily. I didn’t have to go back and read over the article five times to understand it. One thing that I would advise people to do to be skeptical readers of this article (or any article in general) is to understand that E.coli is an extremely simple organism compared to a complex organism such as a human. This could be a oversimplification of the reality of understanding proteins and their role in the formation of cancer in complex organisms such as humans.

Question

How do these researchers reproduce proteins in a lab setting, and how do they know which proteins they’re reproducing?

You can read the article from Science daily here.

2 Comments for “A2: Microbes in the News”

sjpershing

says:

Thanks for posting this article, I really enjoyed reading about it as it was very intriguing. It is interesting how this concept hasn’t been tried before. Also, I understand your idea about the fact that people should not treat E. coli and humans the same way, but the article does point out this problem.
So I looked into how proteins are produced in the lab, and it looks like they transfer the genes that code for the protein into bacteria, and use those bacteria to reproduce the proteins for them.

llharrod

says:

I agree that the article was easy to digest which made it appropriate for the public in that regard. I also understand your concern with comparing organisms of varying complexity, however, the use of a model organism in this context does seem to be useful for our understanding of human genomics even though the data might not be able to be completely extrapolated to other species. Regarding your question, I think that the researchers could potentially use a technique that amplified the quantity of the protein. Furthermore, they could use gel electrophoresis to separate the proteins by their molecular weight, and then apply western blotting to identify specific proteins based on certain antibodies. I recently learned about this technique in a different course so I’m not entirely sure if this application is appropriate to the article you shared, but I think it might hold some degree of validity. Below I have attached a link to an article that describes gel electrophoresis and western blotting in more detail.

Source:
Overview of Western Blotting. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/life-science/protein-biology/protein-biology-learning-center/protein-biology-resource-library/pierce-protein-methods/overview-western-blotting.html

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