Molecular characterization of a new abortive infection system (AbiU) from Lactococcus lactis LL51-1.
ABSTRACT: This study reports on the identification and characterization of a novel abortive infection system, AbiU, from Lactococcus lactis. AbiU confers resistance to phages from the three main industrially relevant lactococcal phage species: c2, 936, and P335. The presence of AbiU reduced the efficiency of plaquing against specific phage from each species as follows: 3.7 x 10(-1), 1.0 x 10(-2), and 1.0 x 10(-1), respectively. abiU involves two open reading frames, abiU1 (1,772 bp) and abiU2 (1,019 bp). Evidence indicates that AbiU1 is responsible for phage resistance and that AbiU2 may downregulate phage resistance against 936 and P335 type phages but not c2 type phage. AbiU appeared to delay transcription of both phage 712 and c2, with the effect being more marked on phage c2.
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.
Project description:Lactococcal dairy starter strains are under constant threat from phages in dairy fermentation facilities, especially by members of the so-called 936, P335, and c2 species. Among these three phage groups, members of the P335 species are the most genetically diverse. Here, we present the complete genome sequences of two P335-type phages, Q33 and BM13, isolated in North America and representing a novel lineage within this phage group. The Q33 and BM13 genomes exhibit homology, not only to P335-type, but also to elements of the 936-type phage sequences. The two phage genomes also have close relatedness to phages infecting Enterococcus and Clostridium, a heretofore unknown feature among lactococcal P335 phages. The Q33 and BM13 genomes are organized in functionally related clusters with genes encoding functions such as DNA replication and packaging, morphogenesis, and host cell lysis. Electron micrographic analysis of the two phages highlights the presence of a baseplate more reminiscent of the baseplate of 936 phages than that of the majority of members of the P335 group, with the exception of r1t and LC3.
Project description:Insertional mutagenesis with pGhost9::ISS1 resulted in independent insertions in a 350-bp region of the chromosome of Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris MG1363 that conferred phage resistance to the integrants. The orientation and location of the insertions suggested that the phage resistance phenotype was caused by a chromosomal gene turned on by a promoter from the inserted construct. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis confirmed that there were higher levels of transcription of a downstream open reading frame (ORF) in the phage-resistant integrants than in the phage-sensitive strain L. lactis MG1363. This gene was also found to confer phage resistance to L. lactis MG1363 when it was cloned into an expression vector. A subsequent frameshift mutation in the ORF completely eliminated the phage resistance phenotype, confirming that the ORF was necessary for phage resistance. This ORF provided resistance against virulent lactococcal phages belonging to the 936 and c2 species with an efficiency of plaquing of 10(-4), but it did not protect against members of the P335 species. A high level of expression of the ORF did not affect the cellular growth rate. Assays for phage adsorption, DNA ejection, restriction/modification activity, plaque size, phage DNA replication, and cell survival showed that the ORF encoded an abortive infection (Abi) mechanism. Sequence analysis revealed a deduced protein consisting of 201 amino acids which, in its native state, probably forms a dimer in the cytosol. Similarity searches revealed no homology to other phage resistance mechanisms, and thus, this novel Abi mechanism was designated AbiV. The mode of action of AbiV is unknown, but the activity of AbiV prevented cleavage of the replicated phage DNA of 936-like phages.
Project description:Three genetically distinct groups of Lactococcus lactis phages are encountered in dairy plants worldwide, namely, the 936, c2, and P335 species. The multiplex PCR method was adapted to detect, in a single reaction, the presence of these species in whey samples or in phage lysates. Three sets of primers, one for each species, were designed based on conserved regions of their genomes. The c2-specific primers were constructed using the major capsid protein gene (mcp) as the target. The mcp sequences for three phages (eb1, Q38, and Q44) were determined and compared with the two available in the databases, those for phages c2 and bIL67. An 86.4% identity was found over the five mcp genes. The gene of the only major structural protein (msp) was selected as a target for the detection of 936-related phages. The msp sequences for three phages (p2, Q7, and Q11) were also established and matched with the available data on phages sk1, bIL170, and F4-1. The comparison of the six msp genes revealed an 82. 2% identity. A high genomic diversity was observed among structural proteins of the P335-like phages suggesting that the classification of lactococcal phages within this species should be revised. Nevertheless, we have identified a common genomic region in 10 P335-like phages isolated from six countries. This region corresponded to orfF17-orf18 of phage r1t and orf20-orf21 of Tuc2009 and was sequenced for three additional P335 phages (Q30, P270, and ul40). An identity of 93.4% within a 739-bp region of the five phages was found. The detection limit of the multiplex PCR method in whey was 10(4) to 10(7) PFU/ml and was 10(3) to 10(5) PFU/ml with an additional phage concentration step. The method can also be used to detect phage DNA in whey powders and may also detect prophage or defective phage in the bacterial genome.
Project description:Despite being potentially highly useful for characterizing the biodiversity of phages, metagenomic studies are currently not available for dairy bacteriophages, partly due to the lack of a standard procedure for phage extraction. We optimized an extraction method that allows the removal of the bulk protein from whey and milk samples with losses of less than 50% of spiked phages. The protocol was applied to extract phages from whey in order to test the notion that members of Lactococcus lactis 936 (now Sk1virus), P335, c2 (now C2virus) and Leuconostoc phage groups are the most frequently encountered in the dairy environment. The relative abundance and diversity of phages in eight and four whey mixtures from dairies using undefined mesophilic mixed-strain cultures containing Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis and Leuconostoc species (i.e., DL starter cultures) and defined cultures, respectively, were assessed. Results obtained from transmission electron microscopy and high-throughput sequence analyses revealed the dominance of Lc. lactis 936 phages (order Caudovirales, family Siphoviridae) in dairies using undefined DL starter cultures and Lc. lactis c2 phages (order Caudovirales, family Siphoviridae) in dairies using defined cultures. The 936 and Leuconostoc phages demonstrated limited diversity. Possible coinduction of temperate P335 prophages and satellite phages in one of the whey mixtures was also observed.IMPORTANCE The method optimized in this study could provide an important basis for understanding the dynamics of the phage community (abundance, development, diversity, evolution, etc.) in dairies with different sizes, locations, and production strategies. It may also enable the discovery of previously unknown phages, which is crucial for the development of rapid molecular biology-based methods for phage burden surveillance systems. The dominance of only a few phage groups in the dairy environment signifies the depth of knowledge gained over the past decades, which served as the basis for designing current phage control strategies. The presence of a correlation between phages and the type of starter cultures being used in dairies might help to improve the selection and/or design of suitable, custom, and cost-efficient phage control strategies.
Project description:Simultaneous quantitative detection of Lactococcus (Lc.) lactis and Leuconostoc species bacteriophages (phages) has not been reported in dairies using undefined mixed-strain DL-starters, probably due to the lack of applicable methods. We optimized a high-throughput qPCR system that allows simultaneous quantitative detection of Lc. lactis 936 (now SK1virus), P335, c2 (now C2virus) and Leuconostoc phage groups. Component assays are designed to have high efficiencies and nearly the same dynamic detection ranges, i.e., from ~1.1 x 105 to ~1.1 x 101 phage genomes per reaction, which corresponds to ~9 x 107 to ~9 x 103 phage particles mL-1 without any additional up-concentrating steps. The amplification efficiencies of the corresponding assays were 100.1±2.6, 98.7±2.3, 101.0±2.3 and 96.2±6.2. The qPCR system was tested on samples obtained from a dairy plant that employed traditional mother-bulk-cheese vat system. High levels of 936 and P335 phages were detected in the mother culture and the bulk starter, but also in the whey samples. Low levels of phages were detected in the cheese milk samples.
Project description:ABSTRACT Analysis of the genetic locus encompassing a cell wall polysaccharide (CWPS) biosynthesis operon of eight strains of Lactococcus lactis, identified as belonging to the same CWPS type C genotype, revealed the presence of a variable region among the strains examined. The results allowed the identification of five subgroups of the C type named subtypes C1 to C5. This variable region contains genes encoding glycosyltransferases that display low or no sequence homology between the subgroups. In this study, we purified an acidic polysaccharide from the cell wall of L. lactis 3107 (subtype C2) and confirmed that it is structurally different from the previously established CWPS of subtype C1 L. lactis MG1363. The CWPS of L. lactis 3107 is composed of pentasaccharide repeating units linked by phosphodiester bonds with the structure 6-?-Glc-3-?-Galf-3-?-GlcNAc-2-?-Galf-6-?-GlcNAc-1-P. Combinations of genes from the variable region of subtype C2 were introduced into a mutant of subtype C1 L. lactis NZ9000 deficient in CWPS biosynthesis. The resulting recombinant mutant synthesized a polysaccharide with a composition characteristic of that of subtype C2 L. lactis 3107 and not wild-type C1 L. lactis NZ9000. By challenging the recombinant mutant with various lactococcal phages, we demonstrated that CWPS is the host cell surface receptor of tested bacteriophages of both the P335 and 936 groups and that differences between the CWPS structures play a crucial role in determining phage host range. IMPORTANCE Despite the efforts of nearly 80 years of lactococcal phage research, the precise nature of the cell surface receptors of the P335 and 936 phage group receptors has remained elusive. This work demonstrates the molecular nature of a P335 group receptor while bolstering the evidence of its role in host recognition by phages of the 936 group and at least partially explains why such phages have a very narrow host range. The information generated will be instrumental in understanding the molecular mechanisms of how phages recognize specific saccharidic receptors located on the surface of their bacterial host.
Project description:Dairy fermentations constitute a perfect "breeding ground" for bacteriophages infecting starter cultures, particularly strains of Lactococcus lactis. In modern fermentations, these phages typically belong to one of three groups, i.e., the 936, P335, and c2 phage groups. Traditional production methods present fewer chemical and physical barriers to phage proliferation compared to modern production systems, while the starter cultures used are typically complex, variable, and undefined. In the current study, a variety of cheese whey, animal-derived rennet, and vat swab samples from artisanal cheeses produced in Sicily were analysed for the presence of lactococcal phages to assess phage diversity in such environments. The complete genomes of 18 representative phage isolates were sequenced, allowing the identification of 10 lactococcal 949 group phages, six P087 group phages, and two members of the 936 group phages. The genetic diversity of these isolates was examined using phylogenetic analysis as well as a focused analysis of the receptor binding proteins, which dictate specific interactions with the host-encoded receptor. Thermal treatments at 63 °C and 83 °C indicate that the 949 phages are particularly sensitive to thermal treatments, followed by the P087 and 936 isolates, which were shown to be much less sensitive to such treatments. This difference may explain the relatively low frequency of isolation of the so-called "rare" 949 and P087 group phages in modern fermentations.
Project description:The natural plasmid pSRQ800 isolated from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis W1 conferred strong phage resistance against small isometric phages of the 936 and P335 species when introduced into phage-sensitive L. lactis strains. It had very limited effect on prolate phages of the c2 species. The phage resistance mechanism encoded on pSRQ800 is a temperature-sensitive abortive infection system (Abi). Plasmid pSRQ800 was mapped, and the Abi genetic determinant was localized on a 4.5-kb EcoRI fragment. Cloning and sequencing of the 4.5-kb fragment allowed the identification of two large open reading frames. Deletion mutants showed that only orf1 was needed to produce the Abi phenotype. orf1 (renamed abiK) coded for a predicted protein of 599 amino acids (AbiK) with an estimated molecular size of 71.4 kDa and a pI of 7.98. DNA and protein sequence alignment programs found no significant homology with databases. However, a database query based on amino acid composition suggested that AbiK might be in the same protein family as AbiA. No phage DNA replication nor phage structural protein production was detected in infected AbiK+ L. lactis cells. This system is believed to act at or prior to phage DNA replication. WHen cloned into a high-copy vector, AbiK efficiency increased 100-fold. AbiK provides another powerful tool that can be useful in controlling phages during lactococcal fermentations.
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.