Pseudomonas Phage MD8: Genetic Mosaicism and Challenges of Taxonomic Classification of Lambdoid Bacteriophages.
ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas phage MD8 is a temperate phage isolated from the freshwater lake Baikal. The organisation of the MD8 genome resembles the genomes of lambdoid bacteriophages. However, MD8 gene and protein sequences have little in common with classified representatives of lambda-like phages. Analysis of phage genomes revealed a group of other Pseudomonas phages related to phage MD8 and the genomic layout of MD8-like phages indicated extensive gene exchange involving even the most conservative proteins and leading to a high degree of genomic mosaicism. Multiple horizontal transfers and mosaicism of the genome of MD8, related phages and other λ-like phages raise questions about the principles of taxonomic classification of the representatives of this voluminous phage group. Comparison and analysis of various bioinformatic approaches applied to λ-like phage genomes demonstrated different efficiency and contradictory results in the estimation of genomic similarity and relatedness. However, we were able to make suggestions for the possible origin of the MD8 genome and the basic principles for the taxonomic classification of lambdoid phages. The group comprising 26 MD8-related phages was proposed to classify as two close genera belonging to a big family of λ-like phages.
Project description:Shiga toxin is the major virulence factor of enterohemorrhagic <i>Escherichia coli</i> (EHEC), and the gene encoding it is carried within the genome of Shiga toxin-converting phages (Stx phages). Numerous Stx phages have been sequenced to gain a better understanding of their contribution to the virulence potential of EHEC. The Stx phages are classified into the lambdoid phage family based on similarities in lifestyle, gene arrangement, and nucleotide sequence to the lambda phages. This study explores the replication regions of non-lambdoid Stx phages that completely lack the <i>O</i> and <i>P</i> genes encoding the proteins involved in initiating replication in the lambdoid phage genome. Instead, they carry sequences encoding replication proteins that have not been described earlier, here referred to as <i>eru</i> genes (after EHEC phage replication unit genes). This study identified three different types of Eru-phages, where the Eru1-type is carried by the highly pathogenic EHEC strains that caused the Norwegian O103:H25 outbreak in 2006 and the O104:H4 strain that caused the large outbreak in Europe in 2011. We show that Eru1-phages exhibit a less stable lysogenic state than the classical lambdoid Stx phages. As production of phage particles is accompanied by production of Stx toxin, the Eru1-phage could be associated with a high-virulence phenotype of the host EHEC strain. This finding emphasizes the importance of classifying Stx phages according to their replication regions in addition to their Stx-type and could be used to develop a novel strategy to identify highly virulent EHEC strains for improved risk assessment and management.
Project description:Shiga toxin (Stx) producing E. coli (STEC) such as Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) are the major cause of foodborne illness in humans. In vitro studies showed the probiotic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN) to efficiently inhibit the production of Stx. Life threatening EHEC strains as for example the serotype O104:H4, responsible for the great outbreak in 2011 in Germany, evolutionary developed from certain E. coli strains which got infected by stx2-encoding lambdoid phages turning the E. coli into lysogenic and subsequently Stx producing strains. Since antibiotics induce stx genes and Stx production, EHEC infected persons are not recommended to be treated with antibiotics. Therefore, EcN might be an alternative medication. However, because even commensal E. coli strains might be converted into Stx-producers after becoming host to a stx encoding prophage, we tested EcN for stx-phage genome integration. Our experiments revealed the resistance of EcN toward not only stx-phages but also against lambda-phages. This resistance was not based on the lack of or by mutated phage receptors. Rather it involved the expression of a phage repressor (pr) gene of a defective prophage in EcN which was able to partially protect E. coli K-12 strain MG1655 against stx and lambda phage infection. Furthermore, we observed EcN to inactivate phages and thereby to protect E. coli K-12 strains against infection by stx- as well as lambda-phages. Inactivation of lambda-phages was due to binding of lambda-phages to LamB of EcN whereas inactivation of stx-phages was caused by a thermostable protein of EcN. These properties together with its ability to inhibit Stx production make EcN a good candidate for the prevention of illness caused by EHEC and probably for the treatment of already infected people.
Project description:We report the sequence of a region of the PR operon of lambdoid phage HK022 and an analysis of the proteins it encodes. This region has DNA sequence elements and open reading frames that resemble those found in phages lambda, P22, and phi 80. The open reading frames encode homologs of the lambda CII transcription activator, the P22 DNA replication proteins, and a fourth protein of unknown function.
Project description:The argU (dnaY) gene of Escherichia coli is located, in clockwise orientation, at 577.5 kilobases (kb) on the chromosome physical map. There was a cryptic prophage spanning the 2 kb immediately downstream of argU that consisted of sequences similar to the phage P22 int gene, a portion of the P22 xis gene, and portions of the exo, P, and ren genes of bacteriophage lambda. This cryptic prophage was designated DLP12, for defective lambdoid prophage at 12 min. Immediately clockwise of DLP12 was the IS3 alpha 4 beta 4 insertion element. The argU and DLP12 int genes overlapped at their 3' ends, and argU contained sequence homologous to a portion of the phage P22 attP site. Additional homologies to lambdoid phages were found in the 25 kb clockwise of argU. These included the cryptic prophage qsr' (P. J. Highton, Y. Chang, W. R. Marcotte, Jr., and C. A. Schnaitman, J. Bacteriol. 162:256-262, 1985), a sequence homologous to a portion of lambda orf-194, and an attR homolog. Inasmuch as the DLP12 att int xis exo P/ren region, the qsr' region, and homologs of orf-194 and attR were arranged in the same order and orientation as the lambdoid prophage counterparts, we propose that the designation DLP12 be applied to all these sequences. This organization of the DLP12 sequences and the presence of the argU/DLP12 int pair in several E. coli strains and closely related species suggest that DLP12 might be an ancestral lambdoid prophage. Moreover, the presence of similar sequences at the junctions of DLP12 segments and their phage counterparts suggests that a common mechanism could have transferred these DLP12 segments to more recent phages.
Project description:The Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN) is used as a probiotic for the treatment of certain gastrointestinal diseases in several European and non-European countries. In vitro studies showed EcN to efficiently inhibit the production of Shiga toxin (Stx) by Stx producing E. coli (STEC) such as Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). The occurrence of the latest EHEC serotype (O104:H4) responsible for the great outbreak in 2011 in Germany was due to the infection of an enteroaggregative E. coli by a Stx 2-encoding lambdoid phage turning this E. coli into a lysogenic and subsequently into a Stx producing strain. Since EHEC infected persons are not recommended to be treated with antibiotics, EcN might be an alternative medication. However, because a harmless E. coli strain might be converted into a Stx-producer after becoming host to a stx encoding prophage, we tested EcN for stx-phage genome integration. Our experiments revealed the resistance of EcN towards not only stx-phages but also against the lambda phage. This resistance was not based on the lack of or by mutated phage receptors. Rather the expression of certain genes (superinfection exclusion B (sieB) and a phage repressor (pr) gene) of a defective prophage of EcN was involved in the complete resistance of EcN to infection by the stx- and lambda phage. Obviously, EcN cannot be turned into a Stx producer. Furthermore, we observed EcN to inactivate phages and thereby to protect E. coli K-12 strains against infection by stx- as well as lambda-phages. Inactivation of lambda-phages was due to binding of lambda-phages to LamB of EcN whereas inactivation of stx-phages was caused by a thermostable protein of EcN. These properties together with its ability to inhibit Stx production make EcN a good candidate for the prevention of illness caused by EHEC and probably for the treatment of already infected people.
Project description:Bacteriophages (or phages) dominate the biosphere both numerically and in terms of genetic diversity. In particular, genomic comparisons suggest a remarkable level of horizontal gene transfer among temperate phages, favoring a high evolution rate. Molecular mechanisms of this pervasive mosaicism are mostly unknown. One hypothesis is that phage encoded recombinases are key players in these horizontal transfers, thanks to their high efficiency and low fidelity. Here, we associate two complementary in vivo assays and a bioinformatics analysis to address the role of phage encoded recombinases in genomic mosaicism. The first assay allowed determining the genetic determinants of mosaic formation between lambdoid phages and Escherichia coli prophage remnants. In the second assay, recombination was monitored between sequences on phage ?, and allowed to compare the performance of three different Rad52-like recombinases on the same substrate. We also addressed the importance of homologous recombination in phage evolution by a genomic comparison of 84 E. coli virulent and temperate phages or prophages. We demonstrate that mosaics are mainly generated by homology-driven mechanisms that tolerate high substrate divergence. We show that phage encoded Rad52-like recombinases act independently of RecA, and that they are relatively more efficient when the exchanged fragments are divergent. We also show that accessory phage genes orf and rap contribute to mosaicism. A bioinformatics analysis strengthens our experimental results by showing that homologous recombination left traces in temperate phage genomes at the borders of recently exchanged fragments. We found no evidence of exchanges between virulent and temperate phages of E. coli. Altogether, our results demonstrate that Rad52-like recombinases promote gene shuffling among temperate phages, accelerating their evolution. This mechanism may prove to be more general, as other mobile genetic elements such as ICE encode Rad52-like functions, and play an important role in bacterial evolution itself.
Project description:Despite their ubiquity, relatively few bacteriophages have been characterized. Here, we set out to explore Caulobacter bacteriophages (caulophages) in the rhizosphere and characterized Kronos, the first caulophage isolated from the rhizosphere. Kronos is a member of the Siphoviridae family since it has a long flexible tail. In addition, an analysis of the Kronos genome indicated that many of the predicted proteins were distantly related to those of bacteriophages in the lambdoid family. Consistent with this observation, we were able to demonstrate the presence of cos sites that are similar to those found at the ends of lambdoid phage genomes. Moreover, Kronos displayed a relatively rare head and tail morphology compared to other caulophages but was similar to that of the lambdoid phages. Taken together, these data indicate that Kronos is distantly related to lambdoid phages and may represent a new Siphoviridae genus.
Project description:Shiga toxin-converting bacteriophages (or Stx phages) are responsible for virulence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli strains. Although they belong to the group of lambdoid phages, which have served as models in studies on DNA replication mechanisms, details of regulation of replication of Stx phage genomes are poorly understood. Despite high similarity of their replication regions to that of phage lambda, considerable differences occur between them. Here, we present a comparison of origins of replication and O proteins of lambda and selected Stx phages (phages P27 and 933W). Stx initiator proteins, similarly to the lambda O protein, exist in the form of dimers. Only 4 iteron sequences are strongly bound in vitro by the O proteins, despite the presence of 6 such fragments in the Stx ori, while the function of the other two iterons is still crucial for transformation of E. coli wild-type strain by the P27-derived lambdoid plasmid. As these sequences are found in the gene coding for Stx O proteins, the sequences of these proteins themselves are also extended compared to lambda phage. Therefore, proteins O of Stx phages P27 and 933W have 13 additional amino acids. They can act as a space barrier, thus affecting the lesser packing of the O-some Stx complex compared to the structure found in lambda. Such structure of the DNA replication initiation complex may determine its lesser dependence on the processes occurring in the host cell, including transcriptional activation of the origin. Differences between molecular processes occurring during formation of replication complexes in lambda and Stx phages may indicate the specialization of the latter phages and their adaptation to specific environmental conditions where quick genetic switches are crucial.
Project description:Phages, like many parasites, tend to have small genomes and may encode autonomous functions or manipulate those of their hosts'. Recombination functions are essential for phage replication and diversification. They are also nearly ubiquitous in bacteria. The E. coli genome encodes many copies of an octamer (Chi) motif that upon recognition by RecBCD favors repair of double strand breaks by homologous recombination. This might allow self from non-self discrimination because RecBCD degrades DNA lacking Chi. Bacteriophage Lambda, an E. coli parasite, lacks Chi motifs, but escapes degradation by inhibiting RecBCD and encoding its own autonomous recombination machinery. We found that only half of 275 lambdoid genomes encode recombinases, the remaining relying on the host's machinery. Unexpectedly, we found that some lambdoid phages contain extremely high numbers of Chi motifs concentrated between the phage origin of replication and the packaging site. This suggests a tight association between replication, packaging and RecBCD-mediated recombination in these phages. Indeed, phages lacking recombinases strongly over-represent Chi motifs. Conversely, phages encoding recombinases and inhibiting host recombination machinery select for the absence of Chi motifs. Host and phage recombinases use different mechanisms and the latter are more tolerant to sequence divergence. Accordingly, we show that phages encoding their own recombination machinery have more mosaic genomes resulting from recent recombination events and have more diverse gene repertoires, i.e. larger pan genomes. We discuss the costs and benefits of superseding or manipulating host recombination functions and how this decision shapes phage genome structure and evolvability.
Project description:Stx bacteriophages are responsible for driving the dissemination of Stx toxin genes (stx) across their bacterial host range. Lysogens carrying Stx phages can cause severe, life-threatening disease and Stx toxin is an integral virulence factor. The Stx-bacteriophage vB_EcoP-24B, commonly referred to as ?24B, is capable of multiply infecting a single bacterial host cell at a high frequency, with secondary infection increasing the rate at which subsequent bacteriophage infections can occur. This is biologically unusual, therefore determining the genomic content and context of ?24B compared to other lambdoid Stx phages is important to understanding the factors controlling this phenomenon and determining whether they occur in other Stx phages.The genome of the Stx2 encoding phage, ?24B was sequenced and annotated. The genomic organisation and general features are similar to other sequenced Stx bacteriophages induced from Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), however ?24B possesses significant regions of heterogeneity, with implications for phage biology and behaviour. The ?24B genome was compared to other sequenced Stx phages and the archetypal lambdoid phage, lambda, using the Circos genome comparison tool and a PCR-based multi-loci comparison system.The data support the hypothesis that Stx phages are mosaic, and recombination events between the host, phages and their remnants within the same infected bacterial cell will continue to drive the evolution of Stx phage variants and the subsequent dissemination of shigatoxigenic potential.