Computational Basis for On-Demand Production of Diversified Therapeutic Phage Cocktails.
ABSTRACT: New therapies are necessary to combat increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. We have developed a technology platform of computational, molecular biology, and microbiology tools which together enable on-demand production of phages that target virtually any given bacterial isolate. Two complementary computational tools that identify and precisely map prophages and other integrative genetic elements in bacterial genomes are used to identify prophage-laden bacteria that are close relatives of the target strain. Phage genomes are engineered to disable lysogeny, through use of long amplicon PCR and Gibson assembly. Finally, the engineered phage genomes are introduced into host bacteria for phage production. As an initial demonstration, we used this approach to produce a phage cocktail against the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. Two prophage-laden P. aeruginosa strains closely related to PAO1 were identified, ATCC 39324 and ATCC 27853. Deep sequencing revealed that mitomycin C treatment of these strains induced seven phages that grow on P. aeruginosa PAO1. The most diverse five phages were engineered for nonlysogeny by deleting the integrase gene (int), which is readily identifiable and typically conveniently located at one end of the prophage. The ?int phages, individually and in cocktails, killed P. aeruginosa PAO1 in liquid culture as well as in a waxworm (Galleria mellonella) model of infection.IMPORTANCE The antibiotic resistance crisis has led to renewed interest in phage therapy as an alternative means of treating infection. However, conventional methods for isolating pathogen-specific phage are slow, labor-intensive, and frequently unsuccessful. We have demonstrated that computationally identified prophages carried by near-neighbor bacteria can serve as starting material for production of engineered phages that kill the target pathogen. Our approach and technology platform offer new opportunity for rapid development of phage therapies against most, if not all, bacterial pathogens, a foundational advance for use of phage in treating infectious disease.
Project description:The viruses that infect bacteria, known as phages, play a critical role in controlling bacterial populations in many diverse environments, including the human body. This control stems not only from phages killing bacteria but also from the formation of lysogens. In this state, the phage replication cycle is suppressed, and the phage genome is maintained in the bacterial cell in a form known as a prophage. Prophages often carry genes that benefit the host bacterial cell, since increasing the survival of the host cell by extension also increases the fitness of the prophage. These highly diverse and beneficial phage genes, which are not required for the life cycle of the phage itself, have been referred to as "morons," as their presence adds "more on" the phage genome in which they are found. While individual phage morons have been shown to contribute to bacterial virulence by a number of different mechanisms, there have been no systematic investigations of their activities. Using a library of phages that infect two different clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa, PAO1 and PA14, we compared the phenotypes imparted by the expression of individual phage morons. We identified morons that inhibit twitching and swimming motilities and observed an inhibition of the production of virulence factors such as rhamnolipids and elastase. This study demonstrates the scope of phage-mediated phenotypic changes and provides a framework for future studies of phage morons.IMPORTANCE Environmental and clinical isolates of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa frequently contain viruses known as prophages. These prophages can alter the virulence of their bacterial hosts through the expression of nonessential genes known as "morons." In this study, we identified morons in a group of Pseudomonas aeruginosa phages and characterized the effects of their expression on bacterial behaviors. We found that many morons confer selective advantages for the bacterial host, some of which correlate with increased bacterial virulence. This work highlights the symbiotic relationship between bacteria and prophages and illustrates how phage morons can help bacteria adapt to different selective pressures and contribute to human diseases.
Project description:Identifying active prophages is critical for studying coevolution of phage and bacteria, investigating phage physiology and biochemistry, and engineering designer phages for diverse applications. We present Prophage Hunter, a tool aimed at hunting for active prophages from whole genome assembly of bacteria. Combining sequence similarity-based matching and genetic features-based machine learning classification, we developed a novel scoring system that exhibits higher accuracy than current tools in predicting active prophages on the validation datasets. The option of skipping similarity matching is also available so that there's higher chance for novel phages to be discovered. Prophage Hunter provides a one-stop web service to extract prophage genomes from bacterial genomes, evaluate the activity of the prophages, identify phylogenetically related phages, and annotate the function of phage proteins. Prophage Hunter is freely available at https://pro-hunter.bgi.com/.
Project description:The activity of bacteriophages poses a major threat to bacterial survival. Upon infection, a temperate phage can either kill the host cell or be maintained as a prophage. In this state, the bacteria carrying the prophage is at risk of superinfection, where another phage injects its genetic material and competes for host cell resources. To avoid this, many phages have evolved mechanisms that alter the bacteria and make it resistant to phage superinfection. The mechanisms underlying these phentoypic conversions and the fitness consequences for the host are poorly understood, and systematic studies of superinfection exclusion mechanisms are lacking. In this study, we examined a wide range of Pseudomonas aeruginosa phages and found that they mediate superinfection exclusion through a variety of mechanisms, some of which affected the type IV pilus and O-antigen, and others that functioned inside the cell. The strongest resistance mechanism was a surface modification that we showed is cost-free for the bacterial host in a natural soil environment and in a Caenorhabditis. elegans infection model. This study represents the first systematic approach to address how a population of prophages influences phage resistance and bacterial behavior in P. aeruginosa.
Project description:A P2-like phage ?RSY1 infecting the phytopathogen Ralstonia solanacearum was isolated and characterized. The 40-kb genome of ?RSY1 showed high sequence similarity to the Ralstonia phage ?RSA1 and the GMI1000 prophage ?RSX. The major genomic differences between these phages were the different orientation of the int gene and the gene content close to the cosL. ?RSY1 and ?RSX use a 15-base 3' portion of the serine tRNA(GGA) gene as attB, while ?RSA1 uses a 45-base 3' portion of the arginine tRNA(CCG) gene. The different orientation of int in the genomes means that the gene arrangements in the prophage states are reversed in ?RSY1 and ?RSA1. Several putative gene products of ?RSY1 may affect the bacterium's fitness. ?RSY1 contains an open reading frame (ORF) that seems to encode a protein similar to Vgr in the type VI secretion system of various bacterial species. ?RSY1 lysogens showed phenotypic changes including enhanced twitching motility, large colony formation, and easy aggregation of cells, suggesting involvement of this ORF in the changes. In view of these phage gene arrangements, we surveyed prophages in the genomes of various R. solanacearum strains and found that the P2-like phages of R. solanacearum (14 phages) consist of two major groups: the ?RSY1-type and the ?RSA1-type. The relationships and evolution of these P2-like phages inferred from our data are discussed in detail.
Project description:Prophages are integrated phage elements that are a pervasive feature of bacterial genomes. The fitness of bacteria is enhanced by prophages that confer beneficial functions such as virulence, stress tolerance or phage resistance, and these functions are encoded by 'accessory' or 'moron' loci. Whilst the majority of phage-encoded genes are repressed during lysogeny, accessory loci are often highly expressed. However, it is challenging to identify novel prophage accessory loci from DNA sequence data alone. Here, we use bacterial RNA-seq data to examine the transcriptional landscapes of five Salmonella prophages. We show that transcriptomic data can be used to heuristically enrich for prophage features that are highly expressed within bacterial cells and represent functionally important accessory loci. Using this approach, we identify a novel antisense RNA species in prophage BTP1, STnc6030, which mediates superinfection exclusion of phage BTP1. Bacterial transcriptomic datasets are a powerful tool to explore the molecular biology of temperate phages.
Project description:The rapid rise of antibiotic resistance has renewed interest in phage therapy - the use of bacteria-specific viruses (phages) to treat bacterial infections. Even though phages are often pathogen-specific, little is known about the efficiency and eco-evolutionary outcomes of phage therapy in polymicrobial infections. We studied this experimentally by exposing both quorum-sensing (QS) signalling PAO1 and QS-deficient lasR Pseudomonas aeruginosa genotypes (differing in their ability to signal intraspecifically) to lytic PT7 phage in the presence and absence of two bacterial competitors: Staphylococcus aureus and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia-two bacteria commonly associated with P. aeruginosa in polymicrobial cystic fibrosis lung infections. Both the P. aeruginosa genotype and the presence of competitors had profound effects on bacteria and phage densities and bacterial resistance evolution. In general, competition reduced the P. aeruginosa frequencies leading to a lower rate of resistance evolution. This effect was clearer with QS signalling PAO1 strain due to lower bacteria and phage densities and relatively larger pleiotropic growth cost imposed by both phages and competitors. Unexpectedly, phage selection decreased the total bacterial densities in the QS-deficient lasR pathogen communities, while an increase was observed in the QS signalling PAO1 pathogen communities. Together these results suggest that bacterial competition can shape the eco-evolutionary outcomes of phage therapy.
Project description:The prophage is one of the most important components of variable regions in bacterial genomes. Some prophages carry additional genes that may enhance the toxicity and survival ability of their host bacteria. This phenomenon is predominant in Staphylococcus aureus, a very common human pathogen. Bioinformatics analysis of several staphylococcal prophages revealed a highly conserved 40-bp untranslated region upstream of the int gene. A small transcript encoding phage integrase was identified to be initiated from the region, demonstrating that the untranslated region contained a promoter for int. No typical recognition sequence for either sigma(A) or sigma(B) was identified in the 40-bp region. Experiments both in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that sigma(H) recognized the promoter and directed transcription. Genetic deletion of sigH altered the int expression, and subsequently, the excision proportion of prophage DNAs. Phage assays further showed that sigH affected the ability of spontaneous lysis and lysogenization in S. aureus, suggesting that sigH plays a role in stabilizing the lysogenic state. These findings revealed a novel mechanism of prophage integration specifically regulated by a host-source alternative sigma factor. This mechanism suggests a co-evolution strategy of staphylococcal prophages and their host bacteria.
Project description:We identified 9371 tailed phage prophages of 20 known types in reported complete genome sequences of 3298 bacteria in the Salmonella genus. These include 4758 P2 type and 744 P22 type prophages. The latter prophage types were found in the genome sequences of 127 and 24 bacterial host genera, increasing the known host ranges of phages in these groups by 114 and 20 genera, respectively. These prophage nucleotide sequences displayed much more diversity than was previously known from the 48 P2 and 24 P22 type authentic phages whose genomes have been sequenced. More detailed analysis of these prophage sequences indicated that major capsid protein (MCP) gene exchange between tailed phage clusters or types is extremely rare and that P22 prophage-encoded tailspikes correspond perfectly with their hosts' surface polysaccharide structure; thus, MCP and tailspike sequences accurately predict tailed phage type (and thus lifestyle) and host cell surface polysaccharide structure, respectively.
Project description:Bacteriophages are central members and potential modulators of the gut microbiome; however, the ecological and evolutionary relationships of gut bacteria and phages are poorly understood. Here we investigated the abundance and diversity of lysogenic bacteria (lysogens) in the bacterial community of C57BL/6J mice by detecting integrated prophages in genomes reconstructed from the metagenome of commensal bacteria. For the activities of lysogens and prophages, we compared the prophage genomes with the metagenome of free phages. The majority of commensal bacteria in different taxa were identified as lysogens. More lysogens were found among Firmicutes and Proteobacteria, than among Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria. The prophage genomes shared high sequence similarity with the metagenome of free phages, indicating that most lysogens appeared to be active, and that prophages are spontaneously induced as active phages; dietary interventions changed the composition of the induced prophages. By contrast, CRISPR-Cas systems were present in few commensal bacteria, and were rarely active against gut phages. The structure of the bacteria-phage infection networks was "nested-modular", with modularity emerging across taxonomic scales, indicating that temperate phage features have developed over a long phylogenetic timescale. We concluded that phage generalists contribute to the prevalence of lysogeny in the gut ecosystem.
Project description:Integrated phages (prophages) are major contributors to the diversity of bacterial gene repertoires. Domestication of their components is thought to have endowed bacteria with molecular systems involved in secretion, defense, warfare, and gene transfer. However, the rates and mechanisms of domestication remain unknown. We used comparative genomics to study the evolution of prophages within the bacterial genome. We identified over 300 vertically inherited prophages within enterobacterial genomes. Some of these elements are very old and might predate the split between Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica. The size distribution of prophage elements is bimodal, suggestive of rapid prophage inactivation followed by much slower genetic degradation. Accordingly, we observed a pervasive pattern of systematic counterselection of nonsynonymous mutations in prophage genes. Importantly, such patterns of purifying selection are observed not only on accessory regions but also in core phage genes, such as those encoding structural and lysis components. This suggests that bacterial hosts select for phage-associated functions. Several of these conserved prophages have gene repertoires compatible with described functions of adaptive prophage-derived elements such as bacteriocins, killer particles, gene transfer agents, or satellite prophages. We suggest that bacteria frequently domesticate their prophages. Most such domesticated elements end up deleted from the bacterial genome because they are replaced by analogous functions carried by new prophages. This puts the bacterial genome in a state of continuous flux of acquisition and loss of phage-derived adaptive genes.