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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 3 (2002), Issue 4, Pages 345-347
Conference Review

In Vitro Gene Expression Dissected: Chemostat Surgery for Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 0JG, UK

Received 31 May 2002; Revised 10 June 2002

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A unique approach, combining defined and reproducible in vitro models with DNA microarrays, has been developed to study environmental modulation of mycobacterial gene expression. The gene expression profiles of samples of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, from independent chemostat cultures grown under defined and reproducible conditions, were found to be highly correlated. This approach is now being used to study the effect of relevant stimuli, such as limited oxygen availability, on mycobacterial gene expression. A modification of the chemostat culture system, enabling largevolume controlled batch culture, has been developed to study starvation survival. Cultures of M. tuberculosis have been maintained under nutrient-starved conditions for extended periods, with 106107 bacilli surviving in a culturable state after 100 days. The design of the culture system has made it possible to control the environment and collect multiple time-course samples to study patterns of gene expression. These studies demonstrate that it is possible to perform long-term studies and obtain reproducible expression data using controlled and defined in vitro models.