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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2015 Feb;13(2):83-94. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3391. Epub 2015 Jan 12.

The BER necessities: the repair of DNA damage in human-adapted bacterial pathogens.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, South Parks Road, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3RE, UK.


During colonization and disease, bacterial pathogens must survive the onslaught of the host immune system. A key component of the innate immune response is the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species by phagocytic cells, which target and disrupt pathogen molecules, particularly DNA, and the base excision repair (BER) pathway is the most important mechanism for the repair of such oxidative DNA damage. In this Review, we discuss how the human-specific pathogens Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Helicobacter pylori and Neisseria meningitidis have evolved specialized mechanisms of DNA repair, particularly their BER pathways, compared with model organisms such as Escherichia coli. This specialization in DNA repair is likely to reflect the distinct niches occupied by these important human pathogens in the host.

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