The Vibrio cholerae O139 Calcutta bacteriophage CTXphi is infectious and encodes a novel repressor.
ABSTRACT: CTXphi is a lysogenic, filamentous bacteriophage. Its genome includes the genes encoding cholera toxin (ctxAB), one of the principal virulence factors of Vibrio cholerae; consequently, nonpathogenic strains of V. cholerae can be converted into toxigenic strains by CTXphi infection. O139 Calcutta strains of V. cholerae, which were linked to cholera outbreaks in Calcutta, India, in 1996, are novel pathogenic strains that carry two distinct CTX prophages integrated in tandem: CTX(ET), the prophage previously characterized within El Tor strains, and a new CTX Calcutta prophage (CTX(calc)). We found that the CTX(calc) prophage gives rise to infectious virions; thus, CTX(ET)phi is no longer the only known vector for transmission of ctxAB. The most functionally significant differences between the nucleotide sequences of CTX(calc)phi and CTX(ET)phi are located within the phages' repressor genes (rstR(calc) and rstR(ET), respectively) and their RstR operators. RstR(calc) is a novel, allele-specific repressor that regulates replication of CTX(calc)phi by inhibiting the activity of the rstA(calc) promoter. RstR(calc) has no inhibitory effect upon the classical and El Tor rstA promoters, which are instead regulated by their cognate RstRs. Consequently, production of RstR(calc) renders a CTX(calc) lysogen immune to superinfection by CTX(calc)phi but susceptible (heteroimmune) to infection by CTX(ET)phi. Analysis of the prophage arrays generated by sequentially integrated CTX phages revealed that pathogenic V. cholerae O139 Calcutta probably arose via infection of an O139 CTX(ET)phi lysogen by CTX(calc)phi.
Project description:CTXphi is a filamentous, lysogenic bacteriophage whose genome encodes cholera toxin, the primary virulence factor produced by Vibrio cholerae. CTX prophages in O1 El Tor and O139 strains of V. cholerae are found within arrays of genetically related elements integrated at a single locus within the V. cholerae large chromosome. The prophages of O1 El Tor and O139 strains generally yield infectious CTXphi. In contrast, O1 classical strains of V. cholerae do not produce CTXphi, although they produce cholera toxin and they contain CTX prophages integrated at two sites. We have identified the second site of CTX prophage integration in O1 classical strains and characterized the classical prophage arrays genetically and functionally. The genes of classical prophages encode functional forms of all of the proteins needed for production of CTXphi. Classical CTX prophages are present either as solitary prophages or as arrays of two truncated, fused prophages. RS1, a genetic element that is closely related to CTXphi and is often interspersed with CTX prophages in El Tor strains, was not detected in classical V. cholerae. Our model for CTXphi production predicts that the CTX prophage arrangements in classical strains will not yield extrachromosomal CTX DNA and thus will not yield virions, and our experimental results confirm this prediction. Thus, failure of O1 classical strains of V. cholerae to produce CTXphi is due to overall deficiencies in the structures of the arrays of classical prophages, rather than to mutations affecting individual CTX prophage genes.
Project description:Two major virulence factors are associated with epidemic strains (O1 and O139 serogroups) of Vibrio cholerae: cholera toxin encoded by the ctxAB genes and toxin-coregulated pilus encoded by the tcpA gene. The ctx genes reside in the genome of a filamentous phage (CTXphi), and the tcpA gene resides in a vibrio pathogenicity island (VPI) which has also been proposed to be a filamentous phage designated VPIphi. In order to determine the prevalence of horizontal transfer of VPI and CTXphi among nonepidemic (non-O1 and non-O139 serogroups) V. cholerae, 300 strains of both clinical and environmental origin were screened for the presence of tcpA and ctxAB. In this paper, we present the comparative genetic analyses of 11 nonepidemic serogroup strains which carry the VPI cluster. Seven of the 11 VPI(+) strains have also acquired the CTXphi. Multilocus sequence typing and restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses of the VPI and CTXphi prophage regions revealed that the non-O1 and non-O139 strains were genetically diverse and clustered in lineages distinct from that of the epidemic strains. The left end of the VPI in the non-O1 and non-O139 strains exhibited extensive DNA rearrangements. In addition, several CTXphi prophage types characterized by novel repressor (rstR) and ctxAB genes and VPIs with novel tcpA genes were found in these strains. These data suggest that the potentially pathogenic, nonepidemic, non-O1 and non-O139 strains identified in our study most likely evolved by sequential horizontal acquisition of the VPI and CTXphi independently rather than by exchange of O-antigen biosynthesis regions in an existing epidemic strain.
Project description:In toxigenic Vibrio cholerae, the cholera enterotoxin (CT) is encoded by CTXPhi, a lysogenic bacteriophage. The propagation of this filamentous phage can result in the origination of new toxigenic strains. To understand the nature of possible environmental factors associated with the propagation of CTXPhi, we examined the effects of temperature, pH, salinity, and exposure to direct sunlight on the induction of the CTX prophage and studied the transmission of the phage to potential recipient strains. Exposure of cultures of CTXPhi lysogens to direct sunlight resulted in approximately 10,000-fold increases in phage titers. Variation in temperature, pH, or salinity of the culture did not have a substantial effect on the induction of the prophage, but these factors influenced the stability of CTXPhi particles. Exposure of mixed cultures of CTXPhi lysogens and potential recipient strains to sunlight significantly increased both the in vitro and in vivo (in rabbit ileal loops) transduction of the recipient strains by CTXPhi. Included in these transduction experiments were two environmental nontoxigenic (CTXPhi(-)) strains of V. cholerae O139. These two O139 strains were transduced at high efficiency by CTXPhi, and the phage genome integrated into the O139 host chromosome. The resulting CTXPhi lysogens produced biologically active CT both in vitro and in rabbit ileal loops. This finding suggests a possible mechanism explaining the origination of toxigenic V. cholerae O139 strains from nontoxigenic progenitors. This study indicates that sunlight is a significant inducer of the CTX prophage and suggests that sunlight-induced transmission of CTXPhi may constitute part of a natural mechanism for the origination of new toxigenic strains of V. cholerae.
Project description:The genes encoding cholera toxin (ctxA and ctxB) are encoded in the genome of CTXphi, a filamentous phage that infects Vibrio cholerae. To study the evolutionary history of CTXphi, we examined genome diversity in CTX(phi)s derived from a variety of epidemic and nonepidemic Vibrio sp. natural isolates. Among these were three V. cholerae strains that contained CTX prophage sequences but not the ctxA and ctxB genes. These prophages each gave rise to a plasmid form whose genomic organization was very similar to that of the CTXphi replicative form, with the exception of missing ctxAB. Sequence analysis of these three plasmids revealed that they lacked the upstream control region normally found 5' of ctxA, as well as the ctxAB promoter region and coding sequences. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a CTXphi precursor that lacked ctxAB simultaneously acquired the toxin genes and their regulatory sequences. To assess the evolutionary relationships among additional CTX(phi)s, two CTXphi-encoded genes, orfU and zot, were sequenced from 13 V. cholerae and 4 V. mimicus isolates. Comparative nucleotide sequence analyses revealed that the CTX(phi)s derived from classical and El Tor V. cholerae isolates comprise two distinct lineages within otherwise nearly identical chromosomal backgrounds (based on mdh sequences). These findings suggest that nontoxigenic precursors of the two V. cholerae O1 biotypes independently acquired distinct CTX(phi)s.
Project description:The novel epidemic strain Vibrio cholerae O139 Bengal originated from a seventh-pandemic O1 El Tor strain by antigenic shift resulting from homologous recombination-mediated exchange of O-antigen biosynthesis (wb*) clusters. Conservation of the genetic organization of wb* regions seen in other serogroups raised the possibility of the existence of pathogenic non-O1 and non-O139 V. cholerae strains that emerged by similar events. To test this hypothesis, 300 V. cholerae isolates of non-O1 and non-O139 serogroups were screened for the presence of virulence genes and an epidemic genetic background by DNA dot blotting, IS1004 fingerprinting, and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. We found four non-O1 strains (serogroups O27, O37, O53, and O65) with an O1 genetic backbone suggesting exchange of wb* clusters. DNA sequence analysis of the O37 wb* region revealed that a novel approximately 23.4-kb gene cluster had replaced all but the approximately 4.2-kb right junction of the 22-kb O1 wbe region. In sharp contrast to the backbones, the virulence regions of the four strains were quite heterogeneous; the O53 and O65 strains had the El Tor vibrio pathogenicity island (VPI) cluster, the O37 strain had the classical VPI cluster, and the O27 strain had a novel VPI cluster. Two of the four strains carried CTXphi; the O27 strain possessed a CTXphi with a recently reported immune specificity (rstR-4** allele) and a novel ctxB allele, and the O37 strain had an El Tor CTXphi (rstR(ET) allele) and novel ctxAB alleles. Although the O53 and O65 strains lacked the ctxAB genes, they carried a pre-CTXphi (i.e., rstR(cla)). Identification of non-O1 and non-O139 serogroups with pathogenic potential in epidemic genetic backgrounds means that attention should be paid to possible future epidemics caused by these serogroups and to the need for new, rapid vaccine development strategies.
Project description:In toxigenic Vibrio cholerae, cholera toxin is encoded by the CTX prophage, which consists of a core region carrying ctxAB genes and genes required for CTXPhi morphogenesis, and an RS2 region encoding regulation, replication, and integration functions. Integrated CTXPhi is often flanked by another genetic element known as RS1 which carries all open reading frames (ORFs) found in RS2 and an additional ORF designated rstC. We identified a single-stranded circularized form of the RS1 element, in addition to the CTXPhi genome, in nucleic acids extracted from phage preparations of 32 out of 83 (38.5%) RS1-positive toxigenic V. cholerae strains analyzed. Subsequently, the corresponding double-stranded replicative form (RF) of the RS1 element was isolated from a representative strain and marked with a kanamycin resistance (Km(r)) marker in an intergenic site to construct pRS1-Km. Restriction and PCR analysis of pRS1-Km and sequencing of a 300-bp region confirmed that this RF DNA was the excised RS1 element which formed a novel junction between ig1 and rstC. Introduction of pRS1-Km into a V. cholerae O1 classical biotype strain, O395, led to the production of extracellular Km(r) transducing particles, which carried a single-stranded form of pRS1-Km, thus resembling the genome of a filamentous phage (RS1-KmPhi). Analysis of V. cholerae strains for susceptibility to RS1-KmPhi showed that classical biotype strains were more susceptible to the phage compared to El Tor and O139 strains. Nontoxigenic (CTX(-)) O1 and O139 strains which carried genes encoding the CTXPhi receptor toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP) were also more susceptible (>1,000-fold) to the phage compared to toxigenic El Tor or O139 strains. Like CTXPhi, the RS1Phi genome also integrated into the host chromosomes by using the attRS sequence. However, only transductants of RS1-KmPhi which also harbored the CTXPhi genome produced a detectable level of extracellular RS1-KmPhi. This suggested that the core genes of CTXPhi are also required for the morphogenesis of RS1Phi. The results of this study showed for the first time that RS1 element, which encodes a site-specific recombination system in V. cholerae, can propagate horizontally as a filamentous phage, exploiting the morphogenesis genes of CTXPhi.
Project description:PCR surveillance of the rstR genes of CTX phages in Vibrio cholerae O1 and O139 showed no relationship between the incidence of disease and changes in the rstR but showed variations in their presence in O1 and O139 strains and the occurrence of multiple types in a few strains.
Project description:The El Tor biotype of Vibrio cholerae O1, causing the current seventh pandemic of cholera, has replaced the classical biotype, which caused the sixth pandemic. The CTX prophages encoding cholera toxin in the two biotypes have distinct repressor (rstR) genes. Recently, new variants of El Tor strains that carry the classical type (CTX(class)) prophage have emerged. These "hybrid" strains apparently originate through lateral gene transfer and recombination events. To explore possible donors of the CTX(class) prophage and its mode of transfer, we tested environmental V. cholerae isolates for the presence of CTX(class) prophage and mobility of the phage genome. Of the 272 environmental V. cholerae isolates tested, 6 were found to carry the CTX(class) prophage; all of these belonged to the O141 serogroup. These O141 strains were unable to produce infectious CTX(class) phage or to transmit the prophage to recipient strains in the mouse model of infection; however, the CTX(class) prophage was acquired by El Tor strains when cultured with the O141 strains in microcosms composed of filtered environmental water, a chitin substrate, and a V. cholerae O141-specific bacteriophage. The CTX(class) prophage either coexisted with or replaced the resident CTX(ET) prophage, resulting in El Tor strains with CTX genotypes similar to those of the naturally occurring hybrid strains. Our results support a model involving phages and natural chitin substrate in the emergence of new variants of pathogenic V. cholerae. Furthermore, the O141 strains apparently represent an alternative reservoir of the CTX(class) phage genome, because the classical V. cholerae O1 strains are possibly extinct.
Project description:CTXphi is a filamentous bacteriophage that encodes cholera toxin, the principal virulence factor of Vibrio cholerae. CTXphi is unusual among filamentous phages because it encodes a repressor and forms lysogens. CTXphi can infect the existing live-attenuated V. cholerae vaccine strains derived from either the El Tor or classical V. cholerae biotypes and result in vaccine reversion to toxinogenicity. Intraintestinal CTXphi transduction assays were used to demonstrate that El Tor biotype strains of V. cholerae are immune to infection with the El Tor-derived CTXphi, whereas classical strains are not. The El Tor CTXphi repressor, RstR, was sufficient to render classical strains immune to infection with the El Tor CTXphi. The DNA sequences of the classical and El Tor CTXphi repressors and their presumed cognate operators are highly diverged, whereas the sequences that surround this "immunity" region are nearly identical. Transcriptional fusion studies revealed that the El Tor RstR mediated repression of an El Tor rstA-lacZ fusion but did not repress a classical rstA-lacZ fusion. Likewise, the classical RstR only repressed a classical rstA-lacZ fusion. Thus, similar to the mechanistic basis for heteroimmunity among lambdoid phages, the specificity of CTXphi immunity is based on the divergence of the sequences of repressors and their operators. Expression of the El Tor rstR in either El Tor or classical live-attenuated V. cholerae vaccine strains effectively protected these vaccines from CTXphi infection. Introduction of rstR into V. cholerae vaccine strains should enhance their biosafety.
Project description:Vibrio cholerae O139, the second etiological serogroup of cholera, triggered the first outbreak of O139 cholera in China in 1993. To analyze the clone polymorphism of O139 isolates in China, 117 strains of V. cholerae O139, isolated from different areas in China between 1993 and 1999, were selected to characterize the phylogenetic relationships by molecular techniques. Analysis of restriction fragment length polymorphism in the conserved 16S rRNA gene revealed seven different ribotypes within the 117 strains. Among these strains, there were eight that lacked the cholera toxin gene (ctxAB), zot, and the repetitive sequence (RS); these eight strains belonged to three individual ribotypes. Our results suggested that V. cholerae O139 strains in China had clone diversity in phylogeny. The results of our hybridization patterns for CTX genetic elements (ctxAB, zot, and RS) showed that CTXPhi genomes in most V. cholerae O139 strains had two or more copies and had extensive restriction patterns even for the strains which belong to the same ribotype. For 22 (20.1%) strains, the copies of ctxAB were different from those of zot, suggesting that a ctxAB-negative CTXPhi genome may exist in O139 strains. This ctxAB-negative CTXPhi genome may coexist with the intact CTXPhi genome in a strain. In addition, the dendrogram for I-CeuI-generated pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns showed that V. cholerae serogroup O139 has a closer relationship with one strain of serogroup O22 than with the strains of serogroup O1. The results of this study showed the clonal diversity and the distribution of O139 strains in China, suggesting multiple origins of the O139 cholera epidemic or sporadic events.