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Monday, February 09, 2009

A new series of mutations have been discovered by scientists that allow rats to resist the effects of poison.

A report published in the journal BMC Genetics today highlights 18 new genetic changes found in rats from four different continents which enable the rodents to become resistant to the common poison warfarin.

Researchers studied more than 250 rats and mice from anticoagulant-exposed areas in Europe, East Asia, South Africa and the Americas.

Warfarin and related compounds are derivatives of the plant toxin coumarin. They prevent blood coagulation by repressing the enzyme vitamin-K reductase (VKOR).

The authors of the study studied VKORC1, the gene responsible for a key component of the VKOR multiprotein complex.

Commenting on their study, they stated: "Mutations in VKORC1 may cause a heritable resistance to warfarin, possibly by preventing coumarin derivatives from interfering with the activity of the reductase enzyme".

In a statement released to coincide with the report, Simone Rost, from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, adds resistance to warfarin-like compounds now poses a considerable problem for the efficiency of pest control around the world.


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