Ana María Zárraga Olavarría

Academic Training

  • Teacher, Biology and Chemistry. Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile, 1974.
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry-Molecular Biology. Rutgers The State University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. New Jersey, USA. 1988.
  • Postdoctorate, State University of New York, Health Science Center at Brooklyn. 1987


Scientific Interests

Our line of research is interdisciplinary in both its objectives and technologies and focuses on genome study and the mechanisms of gene regulation involved in pathogenicity. As biological models, we have chosen those pathogens that cause bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis, both prevalent zoonoses in Chile. Eradication of these pathologies is essential for human health, social and economic development. One of our aims with this study, is to further our knowledge of the molecular strategies by which both pathogens persist in their respective host. We are also interested in the development of molecular methods for genotypification and diagnosis and their application to epidemiological studies.

Mycobacterium bovis causes bovine tuberculosis. This is a chronic illness and highly infectious in a wide variety of animals and in man. The genome of M. bovis is closely related to that of M. tuberculosis, the causal pathogen of tuberculosis in man. These pathogens differ by just 0.05% in their genome sequence. Our laboratory has recently identified a 6% difference at transcription level, highlighting genes related to intermediary metabolism, the cell wall and hypothetical proteins.
Brucella abortus is the etiological agent of bovine brucellosis. One of the main characteristics of this disease is foetal miscarriage. Humans are at risk of contracting the disease from consumption of non pasteurized milk or by inhalation through exposure to infected cattle. Little is known about the virulence factors that determine the pathogenicity of B. abortus. But among these factors, we have identified at least eight loci corresponding to genomic islands, which code for synthesis of lipopolysaccharides, integrases and antigenic proteins, among others. These regions show instability, coincident with the information they store.

Relevant Publications

- M. Mancilla, M Villarroel, ME Saldías, J Soto, AM Zárraga*  Genotipos de aislados de Brucella abortus de distintas regiones geográficas de Chile.  ( 2008 ) . Archivos Medicina Veterinaria. Vol 40 N° 2 (en prensa).

- German Rehren, Shaun Waltersb,1, Patricia Fontanb, Issar Smithb, Ana M. Zarraga. (2007). Differential gene expression between Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, Volume 87, Issue 4, Pages 347-359

- Marcos Mancilla E., Alexis Martínez H., Christian Palavecino B., Germán Rehren Sch., Pedro Lucero L., Gloria León R., Ana María Zárraga O.  (2006) Variantes genéticas de Mycobacterium tuberculosis aisladas de pacientes de la Xa región de Chile. Revista de Infectología de Chile. 23: 220- 225.

- Jaime Villegas, Ana María Zárraga, Ilse Muller, Luis Montecinos, Enrique Werner, Mónica Brito, Ana María  Meneses y Luis Burzio. (2000), A Novel Chimeric Mitochondrial  RNA Localized in the Nucleus of Mouse Sperm. DNA and Cell Biology, Vol 19, Nº 9, pp. 579-588.

- Shaymal, K.G., Zárraga, A.M. and Siddiqui, M.A.Q. (1992).Fos-mediated repression of cardiac myosin light chain-3 gene transcription. Cellular Mol.Biol. 38(1): 049-058.

-Zárraga, A.M., Danishefsky, K., Desphande, A.K., Mendola, C.M., Nicholson, D. and Siddiqui, M.A.Q. (1986). Characterization of 5´-flanking region of Myosin Light Chain 2ª Gene: Structural and Functional Evidence for Cardiac Myosin Light Chain Gene Promoter. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 261: 13852-13860.


Zárraga, Ana María, León, Gloria y Rehren, G. ( 2005 ). Registro de Ministerio de Economía Registro 42351. Partidores de DNA específicos para la detección y/o identificación de Mycobacterium bovis por PCR, método y kit para la deteccicón y/o identificación de M. bovis por Elisa- PCR en muestras de tejido, sangre o leche útil para el diagnóstico de la tuberculosis animal.

Laboratorio de Genómica y Biotecnología