Effect of the abortive infection mechanism and type III toxin/antitoxin system AbiQ on the lytic cycle of Lactococcus lactis phages.
ABSTRACT: To survive in phage-containing environments, bacteria have evolved an array of antiphage systems. Similarly, phages have overcome these hurdles through various means. Here, we investigated how phages are able to circumvent the Lactococcus lactis AbiQ system, a type III toxin-antitoxin with antiviral activities. Lactococcal phage escape mutants were obtained in the laboratory, and their genomes were sequenced. Three unrelated genes of unknown function were mutated in derivatives of three distinct lactococcal siphophages: orf38 of phage P008, m1 of phage bIL170, and e19 of phage c2. One-step growth curve experiments revealed that the phage mutations had a fitness cost while transcriptional analyses showed that AbiQ modified the early-expressed phage mRNA profiles. The L. lactis AbiQ system was also transferred into Escherichia coli MG1655 and tested against several coliphages. While AbiQ was efficient against phages T4 (Myoviridae) and T5 (Siphoviridae), escape mutants of only phage 2 (Myoviridae) could be isolated. Genome sequencing revealed a mutation in gene orf210, a putative DNA polymerase. Taking these observations together, different phage genes or gene products are targeted or involved in the AbiQ phenotype. Moreover, this antiviral system is active against various phage families infecting Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. A model for the mode of action of AbiQ is proposed.
Project description:The aim of this work was to identify genes responsible for host recognition in the lactococcal phages sk1 and bIL170 belonging to species 936. These phages have a high level of DNA identity but different host ranges. Bioinformatic analysis indicated that homologous genes, orf18 in sk1 and orf20 in bIL170, could be the receptor-binding protein (RBP) genes, since the resulting proteins were unrelated in the C-terminal part and showed homology to different groups of proteins hypothetically involved in host recognition. Consequently, chimeric bIL170 phages carrying orf18 from sk1 were generated. The recombinant phages were able to form plaques on the sk1 host Lactococcus lactis MG1614, and recombination was verified by PCR analysis directly with the plaques. A polyclonal antiserum raised against the C-terminal part of phage sk1 ORF18 was used in immunogold electron microscopy to demonstrate that ORF18 is located at the tip of the tail. Sequence analysis of corresponding proteins from other lactococcal phages belonging to species 936 showed that the N-terminal parts of the RBPs were very similar, while the C-terminal parts varied, suggesting that the C-terminal part plays a role in receptor binding. The phages investigated could be grouped into sk1-like phages (p2, fd13, jj50, and phi 7) and bIL170-like phages (P008, P113G, P272, and bIL66) on the basis of the homology of their RBPs to the C-terminal part of ORF18 in sk1 and ORF20 in bIL170, respectively. Interestingly, sk1-like phages bind to and infect a defined group of L. lactis subsp. cremoris strains, while bIL170-like phages bind to and infect a defined group of L. lactis subsp. lactis strains.
Project description:The dairy industry uses the mesophilic, Gram-positive, lactic acid bacterium (LAB) Lactococcus lactis to produce an array of fermented milk products. Milk fermentation processes are susceptible to contamination by virulent phages, but a plethora of phage control strategies are available. One of the most efficient is to use LAB strains carrying phage resistance systems such as abortive infection (Abi) mechanisms. Yet, the mode of action of most Abi systems remains poorly documented. Here, we shed further light on the antiviral activity of the lactococcal AbiT system. Twenty-eight AbiT-resistant phage mutants derived from the wild-type AbiT-sensitive lactococcal phages p2, bIL170, and P008 were isolated and characterized. Comparative genomic analyses identified three different genes that were mutated in these virulent AbiT-insensitive phage derivatives: e14 (bIL170 [e14(bIL170)]), orf41 (P008 [orf41(P008)]), and orf6 (p2 [orf6(p2)] and P008 [orf6(P008)]). The genes e14(bIL170) and orf41(P008) are part of the early-expressed genomic region, but bioinformatic analyses did not identify their putative function. orf6 is found in the phage morphogenesis module. Antibodies were raised against purified recombinant ORF6, and immunoelectron microscopy revealed that it is the major capsid protein (MCP). Coexpression in L. lactis of ORF6(p2) and ORF5(p2), a protease, led to the formation of procapsids. To our knowledge, AbiT is the first Abi system involving distinct phage genes.
Project description:The lactococcal abortive phage infection mechanism AbiQ recently was classified as a type III toxin-antitoxin system in which the toxic protein (ABIQ) is regulated following cleavage of its repeated noncoding RNA antitoxin (antiQ). In this study, we investigated the role of the antitoxin in antiphage activity. The cleavage of antiQ by ABIQ was characterized using 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends PCR and was located in an adenine-rich region of antiQ. We next generated a series of derivatives with point mutations within antiQ or with various numbers of antiQ repetitions. These modifications were analyzed for their effect on the antiphage activity (efficiency of plaquing) and on the endoribonuclease activity (Northern hybridization). We observed that increasing or reducing the number of antiQ repeats significantly decreased the antiphage activity of the system. Several point mutations had a similar effect on the antiphage activity and were associated with changes in the digestion profile of antiQ. Interestingly, a point mutation in the putative pseudoknot structure of antiQ mutants led to an increased AbiQ antiphage activity, thereby offering a novel way to increase the activity of an abortive infection mechanism.
Project description:Lactococcus lactis, a gram-positive bacterium widely used by the dairy industry, is subject to lytic phage infections. In the first step of infection, phages recognize the host saccharidic receptor using their receptor binding protein (RBP). Here, we report the 2.30-A-resolution crystal structure of the RBP head domain from phage bIL170. The structure of the head monomer is remarkably close to those of other lactococcal phages, p2 and TP901-1, despite any sequence identity with them. The knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of three RBPs gives a better insight into the module exchanges which have occurred among phages.
Project description:The virulent Lactococcus lactis phage 949 was isolated in 1975 from cheese whey in New Zealand. This phage is a member of the Siphoviridae family and of a rare lactococcal phage group that bears its name (949 group). It has an icosahedral capsid (79-nm diameter) and a very long noncontractile tail (length, 500 nm; width, 12 nm). It infected 7 of 59 tested L. lactis strains, a somewhat expanded host range for a rare lactococcal phage. The abortive phage infection defense mechanisms AbiQ and AbiT strongly inhibited the multiplication of phage 949, but AbiK and AbiV did not. Its double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) genome of 114,768 bp is, to date, the largest among lactococcal phages. Its GC content was calculated at 32.7%, which is the lowest reported for a lactococcal phage. Its 154 open reading frames (ORFs) share limited identity with database sequences. In addition, terminal redundancy was observed as well as the presence of six tRNAs, one group I intron, and putative recombinases. SDS-PAGE coupled with mass spectrometry identified 13 structural proteins. The genomes of the members of the 10 currently known L. lactis phage groups were used to construct a proteomic tree. Each L. lactis phage group separated into distinct genetic clusters, validating the current classification scheme. Of note, members of the polythetic P335 groups were clearly separated into subgroups.
Project description:Virulent phage 1358 is the reference member of a rare group of phages infecting Lactococcus lactis. Electron microscopy revealed a typical icosahedral capsid connected to one of the smallest noncontractile tails found in a lactococcal phage of the Siphoviridae family. Microbiological characterization identified a burst size of 72 virions released per infected host cell and a latent period of 90 min. The host range of phage 1358 was limited to 3 out of the 60 lactococcal strains tested. Moreover, this phage was insensitive to four Abi systems (AbiK, AbiQ, AbiT, and AbiV). The genome of phage 1358 consisted of a linear, double-stranded, 36,892-bp DNA molecule containing 43 open reading frames (ORFs). At least 14 ORFs coded for structural proteins, as identified by SDS-PAGE coupled to liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analyses. The genomic organization was similar to those of other siphophages. All genes were on the same coding strand and in the same orientation. This lactococcal phage was unique, however, in its 51.4% GC content, much higher than those of other phages infecting this low-GC Gram-positive host. A bias for GC-rich codons was also observed. Comparative analyses showed that several phage 1358 structural proteins shared similarity with two Listeria monocytogenes phages, P35 and P40. The possible origin and evolution of lactococcal phage 1358 is discussed.
Project description:Lactococcus lactis, a Gram(+) lactic acid-producing bacterium used for the manufacture of several fermented dairy products, is subject to infection by diverse virulent tailed phages, leading to industrial fermentation failures. This constant viral risk has led to a sustained interest in the study of their biology, diversity, and evolution. Lactococcal phages now constitute a wide ensemble of at least 10 distinct genotypes within the Caudovirales order, many of them belonging to the Siphoviridae family. Lactococcal siphophage 1358, currently the only member of its group, displays a noticeably high genomic similarity to some Listeria phages as well as a host range limited to a few L. lactis strains. These genomic and functional characteristics stimulated our interest in this phage. Here, we report the cryo-electron microscopy structure of the complete 1358 virion. Phage 1358 exhibits noteworthy features, such as a capsid with dextro handedness and protruding decorations on its capsid and tail. Observations of the baseplate of virion particles revealed at least two conformations, a closed and an open, activated form. Functional assays uncovered that the adsorption of phage 1358 to its host is Ca(2+) independent, but this cation is necessary to complete its lytic cycle. Taken together, our results provide the complete structural picture of a unique lactococcal phage and expand our knowledge on the complex baseplate of phages of the Siphoviridae family.Phages of Lactococcus lactis are investigated mainly because they are sources of milk fermentation failures in the dairy industry. Despite the availability of several antiphage measures, new phages keep emerging in this ecosystem. In this study, we provide the cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of a unique lactococcal phage that possesses genomic similarity to particular Listeria phages and has a host range restricted to only a minority of L. lactis strains. The capsid of phage 1358 displays the almost unique characteristic of being dextro handed. Its capsid and tail exhibit decorations that we assigned to nonspecific sugar binding modules. We observed the baseplate of 1358 in two conformations, a closed and an open form. We also found that the adsorption to its host, but not infection, is Ca(2+) independent. Overall, this study advances our understanding of the adhesion mechanisms of siphophages.
Project description:Lactococcus lactis, a gram-positive bacterium widely used by the dairy industry to manufacture cheeses, is subject to infection by a diverse population of virulent phages. We have previously determined the structures of three receptor binding proteins (RBPs) from lactococcal phages TP901-1, p2, and bIL170, each of them having a distinct host range. Virulent phages p2 and bIL170 are classified within the 936 group, while the temperate phage TP901-1 is a member of the genetically distinct P335 polythetic group. These RBPs comprise three domains: the N-terminal domain, binding to the virion particle; a beta-helical linker domain; and the C-terminal domain, bearing the receptor binding site used for host recognition. Here, we have designed, expressed, and determined the structure of an RBP chimera in which the N-terminal and linker RBP domains of phage TP901-1 (P335) are fused to the C-terminal RBP domain of phage p2 (936). This chimera exhibits a stable structure that closely resembles the parental structures, while a slight displacement of the linker made RBP domain adaptation efficient. The receptor binding site is structurally indistinguishable from that of native p2 RBP and binds glycerol with excellent affinity.
Project description:The Siphoviridae family of bacteriophages is the largest viral family on earth and comprises members infecting both bacteria and archaea. Lactococcal siphophages infect the Gram-positive bacterium Lactococcus lactis, which is widely used for industrial milk fermentation processes (e.g., cheese production). As a result, lactococcal phages have become one of the most thoroughly characterized class of phages from a genomic standpoint. They exhibit amazing and intriguing characteristics. First, each phage has a strict specificity toward a unique or a handful of L. lactis host strains. Second, most lactococcal phages possess a large organelle at their tail tip (termed the baseplate), bearing the receptor binding proteins (RBPs) and mediating host adsorption. The recent accumulation of structural and functional data revealed the modular structure of their building blocks, their different mechanisms of activation and the fine specificity of their RBPs. These results also illustrate similarities and differences between lactococcal Siphoviridae and Gram-negative infecting Myoviridae.
Project description:Lactococcus lactis W-37 is highly resistant to phage infection. The cryptic plasmids from this strain were coelectroporated, along with the shuttle vector pSA3, into the plasmid-free host L. lactis LM0230. In addition to pSA3, erythromycin- and phage-resistant isolates carried pSRQ900, an 11-kb plasmid from L. lactis W-37. This plasmid made the host bacteria highly resistant (efficiency of plaquing <10(-8)) to c2- and 936-like phages. pSRQ900 did not confer any resistance to phages of the P335 species. Adsorption, cell survival, and endonucleolytic activity assays showed that pSRQ900 encodes an abortive infection mechanism. The phage resistance mechanism is limited to a 2.2-kb EcoRV/BclI fragment. Sequence analysis of this fragment revealed a complete open reading frame (abiQ), which encodes a putative protein of 183 amino acids. A frameshift mutation within abiQ completely abolished the resistant phenotype. The predicted peptide has a high content of positively charged residues (pI = 10.5) and is, in all likelihood, a cytosolic protein. AbiQ has no homology to known or deduced proteins in the databases. DNA replication assays showed that phage c21 (c2-like) and phage p2 (936-like) can still replicate in cells harboring AbiQ. However, phage DNA accumulated in its concatenated form in the infected AbiQ+ cells, whereas the AbiQ- cells contained processed (mature) phage DNA in addition to the concatenated form. The production of the major capsid protein of phage c21 was not hindered in the cells harboring AbiQ.