Study discovers bacterial compounds and genes related to colon cancer


A new study used computational tools to assess the DNA of bacteria and found several gene clusters associated with metabolites linked to colon cancer.

The study, published in Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology, was led by Omkar Mohite, PhD, a researcher at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) Biosustain in Lyngby, Denmark. For this investigation, Mohite and his team of researchers set out to better understand the connection between biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) and genetic signatures responsible for producing colon cancer-related toxins.

Scientist used gene mining to explore the secondary metabolite BGC which encode for various compounds of clinical interest. Researchers analyzed 3,889 enterobacterial genomes. Of the enterobacterial genomes study, researchers found 13,266 BGCs that were represented by 252 BGC families and 347 additional singletons.

“Surprisingly, the computational analysis conducted for this study identified a large number of gene clusters responsible for metabolites of potential interest that were previously unknown,” said Tilmann Weber, PhD, associate director of Biosustainability at DTU Biosustain in a statement. “We still need to figure out the functions of these compounds in the production of bacteria, as well as their function when they interact with human hosts or other environments.”

After completing a pangenome analysis, 88 genes were revealed to be related to BGC codes for the colon-cancer-related-genotoxin called colibactin, according to the study. Scientist involved in the study said that they hope these findings can lead to targeted treatments such as anticancer drugs and antibiotics.

“Such associated signatures could help in predicting a list of biological parts that come together to support the production of the genotoxin that can cause colon cancer – valuable information that might help to improve treatment options in the future,” said Mohite.