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Science. 2006 Aug 11;313(5788):848-51.

Escherichia coli induces DNA double-strand breaks in eukaryotic cells.

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INRA, UMR1225, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse, Toulouse F-31076, France.


Transient infection of eukaryotic cells with commensal and extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli of phylogenetic group B2 blocks mitosis and induces megalocytosis. This trait is linked to a widely spread genomic island that encodes giant modular nonribosomal peptide and polyketide synthases. Contact with E. coli expressing this gene cluster causes DNA double-strand breaks and activation of the DNA damage checkpoint pathway, leading to cell cycle arrest and eventually to cell death. Discovery of hybrid peptide-polyketide genotoxins in E. coli will change our view on pathogenesis and commensalism and open new biotechnological applications.

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