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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Mar;7(3):237-45. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2073. Epub 2009 Jan 27.

A new perspective on radiation resistance based on Deinococcus radiodurans.

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Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.


In classical models of radiation toxicity, DNA is the molecule that is most affected by ionizing radiation (IR). However, recent data show that the amount of protein damage caused during irradiation of bacteria is better related to survival than to DNA damage. In this Opinion article, a new model is presented in which proteins are the most important target in the hierarchy of macromolecules affected by IR. A first line of defence against IR in extremely radiation-resistant bacteria might be the accumulation of manganese complexes, which can prevent the production of iron-dependent reactive oxygen species. This would allow an irradiated cell to protect sufficient enzymatic activity needed to repair DNA and survive.

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