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Scientists have discovered a novel genetic repair process that allows
a hardy desert microbe to die and resurrect over and over again.
The finding, detailed in the Sept. 28 issue of the journal Nature,
could lead to new forms of regenerative medicines and might even
allow scientists to one day bring dead cells in our own bodies back
Deinococcus radiodurans is a so-called extremophile bacterium that
can survive intense bouts of heat and UV radiation that shatters its
genome into hundreds of DNA fragments.
Without a genome, the microbe is effectively dead because it can't
synthesize the proteins necessary for life.
In only a few hours, though, Deinococcus can reassemble its genome
and return to life.
"This is the first case, I think, of a living cell that clinically dies—
its DNA is chopped into little pieces and it has no metabolism—when
desiccated, and yet, as long as it can reconstitute its genome, it recon-
stitutes its own life," said study team member Miroslav Radman of
Paris University in France.
The microbe is able to perform its remarkable feat because, like other
bacteria, it carries at least two, sometimes more, copies of its genome
and also because radiation damages DNA randomly.
So even if both genome copies are damaged, they likely aren't damaged
in the same spots. With the right tools, a microbe can piece together
what the original sequence was.
Originally posted by sardion2000
Who really knows what can live deep down there.
[edit on 28-9-2006 by sardion2000]