The complete sequence of the Listeria monocytogenes genome has been determined by a European consortium co-ordinated by Institut Pasteur. Listeria monocytogenes is the bacterium that was responsible for the recent epidemic in France. Pascale Cossart, the project co-ordinator, and Philippe Glaser, co-ordinator of genome sequence analysis and data handling, will describe their progress at the Genome 2000 conference being held at Institut Pasteur. The genome of another species of Listeria, Listeria innocua which is not pathogenic, is currently being sequenced by the Pathogenic Micro-organism Genomics laboratory at Institut Pasteur. The comparison between these two bacterial cousins, only one of which is pathogenic, should supply invaluable information about the Listeria species which repeatedly threatens food safety.
Listeria monocytogenes is responsible for severe food contamination causing listeriosis, of which 20 to 30% of cases are fatal. The disease includes septicaemia, brain infections and miscarriage and tends to affect particular at-risk groups (newborn babies, pregnant women, immunocompromised people and the elderly). There are isolated cases of listeriosis (about 200 cases per year in France), but there are also small epidemics resulting from people eating contaminated food. There was a recent example of such an epidemic in France (9 deaths), for which the National Reference Centre for Listeria at Institut Pasteur is still actively trying to identify the food responsible. L. monocytogenes causes several hundreds of cases every year in the industrialised countries, and is therefore both a public health problem, as well as an economic problem for the agro-food business: foods (particularly cheeses and prepared meat products) regularly have to be withdrawn from the market because of contamination by this bacterium.
The European consortium co-ordinated by Pascale Cossart, head of the
Bacteria-Cell Interaction Unit at Institut Pasteur, started sequencing the
Listeria genome in 1998. The consortium consists of 10 laboratories
and companies (see the list in the appendix). Philippe Glaser, co-director
of the Laboratory of Genomics of Microbial Pathogens is co-ordinating the
continuing annotation of the genomic sequence in collaboration with Institut
Pasteur's Scientific Informatics Service. This whole project was financed
by the European Community. The Laboratory of Genomics of Microbial Pathogens
alone, financed by Institut Pasteur, has almost completed the sequencing
of the Listeria innocua genome.
The availability of these two sequences will allow comparative analysis between a pathogenic Listeria and a non-pathogenic Listeria and the work has already been started by the two Pasteur teams. This comparison should identify previously unknown genetic determinants of L. monocytogenes pathogenicity, and will help improve research on the mode of action of known virulence genes. An even larger programme of comparative genomic analysis has started in collaboration with the Listeria laboratory at Institut Pasteur, directed by Jocelyne Rocourt: it is expected to establish the characteristics of L. monocytogenes strains responsible for epidemics and lead to the development of new diagnostic tools and molecular typing.
- Pascale COSSART, Chef de l'Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules,
Tel: 01 45 68 88 41 - E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Philippe GLASER, co-responsable du Laboratoire de Génomique
des Micro-organismes Pathogènes, I.P.
Tel: 01 45 68 89 96 - E-Mail: email@example.com
- Press office of Institut Pasteur
Tel: 01 45 68 81 46 - E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GENOMES 2000, Conférence Internationale sur les Génomes Microbiens et les Génomes Modèles (International conference on microbial genomes and model genomes), 11-15 April 2000, Institut Pasteur.
Coordination, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France :
Prof. Pascale Cossart
Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules
Dr. Philippe Glaser
Laboratoire de Génomique des Microorganismes Pathogènes
Prof. Werner Goebel
TBI-Biozentrum, Lehrstuhl fuer Mikrobiologie
Université de Würzburg,
Prof. Jose A. Vazquez-Boland
Microbiologia e Immunologia
Facultad de Veterinaria
Prof. Trinad Chakraborty
Institute for Medical Microbiology
Prof. Patrick Berche
Unité INSERM U411
Faculté de Médecine Necker-Enfants Malades
Prof. Fernando Baquero
Servicio de Microbiologia, Hospital Ramon y Cajal
Prof. Francisco Garcia-del Portillo
Centro de Biologia Molecular " Severo Ochoa "
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Prof. Jürgen Wehland
Dpt. Cellbiology and Immunology
Prof. Karl Dieter ENTIAN
Scientific Research and development GmbH (SRD)
Prof. Hartmut Voss
LION bioscience AG