Prions in bacteria

Bacteria do not develop transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, but they have been found to produce prions – proteins that can adopt alternative conformations with different functions. Prion diseases, a frequent topic on this blog, are caused by misfolding of a normal cellular prion protein (illustrated; image copyright ASM Press). Prion proteins are found in other organisms, where the alternative conformation …

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Viruses help form biofilms

Bacteria frequently grow in communities called biofilms, which are aggregates of cells and polymers. An example of a biofilm is the dental plaque on your teeth. Biofilms are medically important as they can allow bacteria to persist in host tissues and on catheters, and confer increased resistance to antibiotics and dessication. Therefore understanding how biofilms form is …

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