Drivers of bacterial genomes plasticity and roles they play in pathogen virulence, persistence and drug resistance.

Despite the advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, sophisticated data analysis and drug development efforts, bacterial drug resistance persists and is escalating in magnitude. To better control the pathogens, a thorough understanding of their genomic architecture and dynamics is vital. Bacterial genome is extremely complex, a mosaic of numerous co-operating and antagonizing components, altruistic and self-interested entities, behavior of which are predictable and conserved to some extent, yet largely dictated by an array of variables. In this regard, mobile genetic elements (MGE), DNA repair systems, post-segregation killing systems, toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems, restriction-modification (RM) systems etc. are dominant agents and horizontal gene transfer (HGT), gene redundancy, epigenetics, phase and antigenic variation etc. processes shape the genome. By illegitimate recombinations, deletions, insertions, duplications, amplifications, inversions, conversions, translocations, modification of intergenic regions and other alterations, bacterial genome is modified to tackle stressors like drugs, and host immune effectors. Over the years, thousands of studies have investigated this aspect and mammoth amount of insights have been accumulated. This review strives to distillate the existing information, formulate hypotheses and to suggest directions, that might contribute towards improved mitigation of the vicious pathogens.

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