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1.  Genome Dynamics of Campylobacter jejuni in Response to Bacteriophage Predation 
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(8):e119.
Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of food-borne illness. Although a natural reservoir of the pathogen is domestic poultry, the degree of genomic diversity exhibited by the species limits the application of epidemiological methods to trace specific infection sources. Bacteriophage predation is a common burden placed upon C. jejuni populations in the avian gut, and we show that amongst C. jejuni that survive bacteriophage predation in broiler chickens are bacteriophage-resistant types that display clear evidence of genomic rearrangements. These rearrangements were identified as intra-genomic inversions between Mu-like prophage DNA sequences to invert genomic segments up to 590 kb in size, the equivalent of one-third of the genome. The resulting strains exhibit three clear phenotypes: resistance to infection by virulent bacteriophage, inefficient colonisation of the broiler chicken intestine, and the production of infectious bacteriophage CampMu. These genotypes were recovered from chickens in the presence of virulent bacteriophage but not in vitro. Reintroduction of these strains into chickens in the absence of bacteriophage results in further genomic rearrangements at the same locations, leading to reversion to bacteriophage sensitivity and colonisation proficiency. These findings indicate a previously unsuspected method by which C. jejuni can generate genomic diversity associated with selective phenotypes. Genomic instability of C. jejuni in the avian gut has been adopted as a mechanism to temporarily survive bacteriophage predation and subsequent competition for resources, and would suggest that C. jejuni exists in vivo as families of related meta-genomes generated to survive local environmental pressures.
Author Summary
Campylobacter jejuni is the major cause of bacterial food-borne illness worldwide. Predation of C. jejuni by virulent bacteriophage offers the prospect of controlling bacterial populations at source in poultry. We report that in chickens, bacteriophage resistance is infrequent because the mutants that escape bacteriophage are not proficient in poultry colonisation but readily revert back to colonisation-proficient phage-sensitive types. Bacteriophage resistance is generated by reversible genomic scale inversions, leading to the activation of an unrelated bacteriophage integrated into the bacterial genome. These data not only suggest that bacteriophage therapy of C. jejuni would remain a sustainable measure to reduce poultry contamination but also demonstrate how bacterial genomes can evolve under the strong and widespread pressure of bacteriophage predation in the environment.
PMCID: PMC1950947  PMID: 17722979
2.  Bacteriophages as Potential Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections 
Background: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most prevalent microbial diseases and their financial burden on society is substantial. The continuing increase of antibiotic resistance worldwide is alarming so that well-tolerated, highly effective therapeutic alternatives are urgently needed.
Objective: To investigate the effect of bacteriophages on Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae strains isolated from the urine of patients suffering from UTIs.
Material and methods: Forty-one E. coli and 9 K. pneumoniae strains, isolated from the urine of patients suffering from UTIs, were tested in vitro for their susceptibility toward bacteriophages. The bacteriophages originated from either commercially available bacteriophage cocktails registered in Georgia or from the bacteriophage collection of the George Eliava Institute of Bacteriophage, Microbiology and Virology. In vitro screening of bacterial strains was performed by use of the spot-test method. The experiments were implemented three times by different groups of scientists.
Results: The lytic activity of the commercial bacteriophage cocktails on the 41 E. coli strains varied between 66% (Pyo bacteriophage) and 93% (Enko bacteriophage). After bacteriophage adaptation of the Pyo bacteriophage cocktail, its lytic activity was increased from 66 to 93% and only one E. coli strain remained resistant. One bacteriophage of the Eliava collection could lyse all 9 K. pneumoniae strains.
Conclusions: Based on the high lytic activity and the potential of resistance optimization by direct adaption of bacteriophages as reported in this study, and in view of the continuing increase of antibiotic resistance worldwide, bacteriophage therapy is a promising treatment option for UTIs highly warranting randomized controlled trials.
PMCID: PMC4826877  PMID: 27148173
bacteriophages; antibiotics; urinary tract infection; bacteriophage adaptation; antibiotic resistance
3.  Structural analysis of bacteriophage T4 DNA replication: a review in the Virology Journal series on bacteriophage T4 and its relatives 
Virology Journal  2010;7:359.
The bacteriophage T4 encodes 10 proteins, known collectively as the replisome, that are responsible for the replication of the phage genome. The replisomal proteins can be subdivided into three activities; the replicase, responsible for duplicating DNA, the primosomal proteins, responsible for unwinding and Okazaki fragment initiation, and the Okazaki repair proteins. The replicase includes the gp43 DNA polymerase, the gp45 processivity clamp, the gp44/62 clamp loader complex, and the gp32 single-stranded DNA binding protein. The primosomal proteins include the gp41 hexameric helicase, the gp61 primase, and the gp59 helicase loading protein. The RNaseH, a 5' to 3' exonuclease and T4 DNA ligase comprise the activities necessary for Okazaki repair. The T4 provides a model system for DNA replication. As a consequence, significant effort has been put forth to solve the crystallographic structures of these replisomal proteins. In this review, we discuss the structures that are available and provide comparison to related proteins when the T4 structures are unavailable. Three of the ten full-length T4 replisomal proteins have been determined; the gp59 helicase loading protein, the RNase H, and the gp45 processivity clamp. The core of T4 gp32 and two proteins from the T4 related phage RB69, the gp43 polymerase and the gp45 clamp are also solved. The T4 gp44/62 clamp loader has not been crystallized but a comparison to the E. coli gamma complex is provided. The structures of T4 gp41 helicase, gp61 primase, and T4 DNA ligase are unknown, structures from bacteriophage T7 proteins are discussed instead. To better understand the functionality of T4 DNA replication, in depth structural analysis will require complexes between proteins and DNA substrates. A DNA primer template bound by gp43 polymerase, a fork DNA substrate bound by RNase H, gp43 polymerase bound to gp32 protein, and RNase H bound to gp32 have been crystallographically determined. The preparation and crystallization of complexes is a significant challenge. We discuss alternate approaches, such as small angle X-ray and neutron scattering to generate molecular envelopes for modeling macromolecular assemblies.
PMCID: PMC3012046  PMID: 21129204
4.  Initiation of bacteriophage T4 DNA replication and replication fork dynamics: a review in the Virology Journal series on bacteriophage T4 and its relatives 
Virology Journal  2010;7:358.
Bacteriophage T4 initiates DNA replication from specialized structures that form in its genome. Immediately after infection, RNA-DNA hybrids (R-loops) occur on (at least some) replication origins, with the annealed RNA serving as a primer for leading-strand synthesis in one direction. As the infection progresses, replication initiation becomes dependent on recombination proteins in a process called recombination-dependent replication (RDR). RDR occurs when the replication machinery is assembled onto D-loop recombination intermediates, and in this case, the invading 3' DNA end is used as a primer for leading strand synthesis. Over the last 15 years, these two modes of T4 DNA replication initiation have been studied in vivo using a variety of approaches, including replication of plasmids with segments of the T4 genome, analysis of replication intermediates by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and genomic approaches that measure DNA copy number as the infection progresses. In addition, biochemical approaches have reconstituted replication from origin R-loop structures and have clarified some detailed roles of both replication and recombination proteins in the process of RDR and related pathways. We will also discuss the parallels between T4 DNA replication modes and similar events in cellular and eukaryotic organelle DNA replication, and close with some current questions of interest concerning the mechanisms of replication, recombination and repair in phage T4.
PMCID: PMC3016281  PMID: 21129203
5.  A Bacteriophage for Myxococcus xanthus: Isolation, Characterization and Relation of Infectivity to Host Morphogenesis1 
Journal of Bacteriology  1966;91(3):1305-1313.
Burchard, Robert P. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis), and M. Dworkin. A bacteriophage for Myxococcus xanthus: isolation, characterization and relation of infectivity to host morphogenesis. J. Bacteriol. 91:1305–1313. 1966.—A bacteriophage (MX-1) infecting Myxococcus xanthus FBt has been isolated from cow dung. The bacteriophage particle is approximately 175 mμ long. A tail about 100 mμ in length is encased in a contractile sheath and terminates in a tail plate. The head is polyhedral with a width of about 75 mμ. The nucleic acid of the bacteriophage is deoxyribonucleic acid and has a guanine plus cytosine content of 55.5%. The bacteriophage requires 10−3m Ca++ and 10−2m monovalent cation for optimal adsorption. Grown on vegetative cells of M. xanthus FBt at 30 C in 2% Casitone medium, the bacteriophage has a latent period of 120 min and a burst size of approximately 100. Host range studies indicate that three strains of M. xanthus including a morphogenetic mutant are sensitive to the bacteriophage, whereas M. fulvus, Cytophaga, Sporocytophaga myxococcoides, and a fourth strain of M. xanthus are not. Of the two cellular forms characteristic of the Myxococcus life cycle, the bacteriophage infect only the vegetative cells; they do not adsorb to microcysts. Ability to adsorb bacteriophage is lost between 65 and 75 min after initiation of the relatively synchronous conversion of vegetative cells to microcysts. The bacteriophage does not adsorb to spheroplasts. After the appearance of visible morphogenesis and before the loss of bacteriophage receptor sites, addition of bacteriophage results in the formation of microcysts which give rise to infective centers only upon germination. The possibility that the infected microcysts are harboring intact bacteriophages has been eliminated.
PMCID: PMC316029  PMID: 5948779
6.  Inferring bacteriophage infection strategies from genome sequence: analysis of bacteriophage 7-11 and related phages 
BMC Evolutionary Biology  2015;15(Suppl 1):S1.
Analyzing regulation of bacteriophage gene expression historically lead to establishing major paradigms of molecular biology, and may provide important medical applications in the future. Temporal regulation of bacteriophage transcription is commonly analyzed through a labor-intensive combination of biochemical and bioinformatic approaches and macroarray measurements. We here investigate to what extent one can understand gene expression strategies of lytic phages, by directly analyzing their genomes through bioinformatic methods. We address this question on a recently sequenced lytic bacteriophage 7 - 11 that infects bacterium Salmonella enterica.
We identify novel promoters for the bacteriophage-encoded σ factor, and test the predictions through homology with another bacteriophage (phiEco32) that has been experimentally characterized in detail. Interestingly, standard approach based on multiple local sequence alignment (MLSA) fails to correctly identify the promoters, but a simpler procedure that is based on pairwise alignment of intergenic regions identifies the desired motifs; we argue that such search strategy is more effective for promoters of bacteriophage-encoded σ factors that are typically well conserved but appear in low copy numbers, which we also verify on two additional bacteriophage genomes. Identifying promoters for bacteriophage encoded σ factors together with a more straightforward identification of promoters for bacterial encoded σ factor, allows clustering the genes in putative early, middle and late class, and consequently predicting the temporal regulation of bacteriophage gene expression, which we demonstrate on phage 7-11.
While MLSA algorithms proved highly useful in computational analysis of transcription regulation, we here established that a simpler procedure is more successful for identifying promoters that are recognized by bacteriophage encoded σ factor/RNA polymerase. We here used this approach for predicting sequence specificity of a novel (bacteriophage encoded) σ factor, and consequently inferring phage 7-11 transcription strategy. Therefore, direct analysis of bacteriophage genome sequences is a plausible first-line approach for efficiently inferring phage transcription strategies, and may provide a wealth of information on transcription initiation by diverse σ factors/RNA polymerases.
PMCID: PMC4331800  PMID: 25708710
bacteriophages; genome analysis; promoter specificity; RNA polymerase; transcription regulation
7.  Isolation and Characterization of Lytic Properties of Bacteriophages Specific for M. haemolytica Strains 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140140.
Aim of Study
The objective of this study was isolation and morphological characterization of temperate bacteriophages obtained from M. haemolytica strains and evaluation of their lytic properties in vitro against M. haemolytica isolated from the respiratory tract of calves.
Material and Methods
The material for the study consisted of the reference strain M. haemolytica serotype 1 (ATCC®) BAA-410™, reference serotypes A1, A2, A5, A6, A7, A9 and A11, and wild-type isolates of M. haemolytica. Bacteriophages were induced from an overnight bacterial starter culture of all examined M. haemolytica strains treated with mitomycin C. The lytic properties and host ranges were determined by plaque assays. The morphology of the bacteriophages was examined in negative-stained smears with 5% uranyl acetate solution using a transmission electron microscope. The genetic analysis of the bacteriophages was followed by restriction analysis of bacteriophage DNA. This was followed by analysis of genetic material by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Eight bacteriophages were obtained, like typical of the families Myoviridae, Siphoviridae and Podoviridae. Most of the bacteriophages exhibited lytic properties against the M. haemolytica strains. Restriction analysis revealed similarities to the P2-like phage obtained from the strain M. haemolytica BAA-410. The most similar profiles were observed in the case of bacteriophages φA1 and φA5. All of the bacteriophages obtained were characterized by the presence of additional fragments in the restriction profiles with respect to the P2-like reference phage. In the analysis of PCR products for the P2-like reference phage phi-MhaA1-PHL101 (DQ426904) and the phages of the M. haemolytica serotypes, a 734-bp phage PCR product was obtained. The primers were programmed in Primer-Blast software using the structure of the sequence DQ426904 of reference phage PHL101.
The results obtained indicate the need for further research aimed at isolating and characterizing bacteriophages, including sequence analysis of selected fragments. Moreover, standardization of methods for obtaining them in order to eliminate M. haemolytica bacteria involved in the etiopathogenesis of BRDC is essential.
PMCID: PMC4599942  PMID: 26451916
8.  Convection-enhanced delivery of M13 bacteriophage to the brain 
Journal of neurosurgery  2012;117(2):197-203.
Recent studies indicate that M13 bacteriophage, a very large nanoparticle, binds to β-amyloid and α-synuclein proteins, leading to plaque disaggregation in models of Alzheimer and Parkinson disease. To determine the feasibility, safety, and characteristics of convection-enhanced delivery (CED) of M13 bacteriophage to the brain, the authors perfused primate brains with bacteriophage.
Four nonhuman primates underwent CED of M13 bacteriophage (900 nm) to thalamic gray matter (4 infusions) and frontal white matter (3 infusions). Bacteriophage was coinfused with Gd-DTPA (1 mM), and serial MRI studies were performed during infusion. Animals were monitored for neurological deficits and were killed 3 days after infusion. Tissues were analyzed for bacteriophage distribution.
Real-time T1-weighted MRI studies of coinfused Gd-DTPA during infusion demonstrated a discrete region of perfusion in both thalamic gray and frontal white matter. An MRI-volumetric analysis revealed that the mean volume of distribution (Vd) to volume of infusion (Vi) ratio of M13 bacteriophage was 2.3 ± 0.2 in gray matter and 1.9 ± 0.3 in white matter. The mean values are expressed ± SD. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated mean Vd:Vi ratios of 2.9 ± 0.2 in gray matter and 2.1 ± 0.3 in white matter. The Gd-DTPA accurately tracked M13 bacteriophage distribution (the mean difference between imaging and actual bacteriophage Vd was insignificant [p > 0.05], and was −2.2% ± 9.9% in thalamic gray matter and 9.1% ± 9.5% in frontal white matter). Immunohistochemical analysis revealed evidence of additional spread from the initial delivery site in white matter (mean Vd:Vi, 16.1 ± 9.1). All animals remained neurologically intact after infusion during the observation period, and histological studies revealed no evidence of toxicity.
The CED method can be used successfully and safely to distribute M13 bacteriophage in the brain. Furthermore, additional white matter spread after infusion cessation enhances distribution of this large nanoparticle. Real-time MRI studies of coinfused Gd-DTPA (1 mM) can be used for accurate tracking of distribution during infusion of M13 bacteriophage.
PMCID: PMC3786326  PMID: 22606981
bacteriophage; brain; convection-enhanced delivery; white matter; gray matter; oncology; Macaca mulatta
9.  The complete genome sequence of EC1-UPM, a novel N4-like bacteriophage that infects Escherichia coli O78:K80 
Virology Journal  2013;10:308.
Bacteriophage EC1-UPM is an N4-like bacteriophage which specifically infects Escherichia coli O78:K80, an avian pathogenic strain that causes colibacillosis in poultry. The complete genome sequence of bacteriophage EC1-UPM was analysed and compared with other closely related N4-like phage groups to assess their genetic similarities and differences.
Bacteriophage EC1-UPM displays a very similar codon usage profile with its host and does not contain any tRNA gene. Comparative genomics analysis reveals close resemblance of bacteriophage EC1-UPM to three N4-like bacteriophages namely vB_EcoP_G7C, IME11 and KBNP21 with a total of 44 protein coding genes shared at 70% identity threshold. The genomic region coding for the tail fiber protein was found to be unique in bacteriophage EC1-UPM. Further annotation of the tail fiber protein using HHpred, a highly sensitive homology detection tool, reveals the presence of protein structure homologous to various polysaccharide processing proteins in its C-terminus. Leveraging on the availability of multiple N4-like bacteriophage genome sequences, the core genes of N4-like bacteriophages were identified and used to perform a multilocus phylogenetic analysis which enabled the construction of a phylogenetic tree with higher confidence than phylogenetic trees based on single genes.
We report for the first time the complete genome sequence of a N4-like bacteriophage which is lytic against avian pathogenic Escherichia coli O78:K80. A novel 928 amino acid residues tail fiber protein was identified in EC1-UPM which may be useful to further the understanding of phage-host specificity. Multilocus phylogenetic analysis using core genes of sequenced N4-like phages showed that the evolutionary relationship correlated well with the pattern of host specificity.
PMCID: PMC3853248  PMID: 24134834
Bacteriophage EC1-UPM; Tail fiber protein; Complete genome; Multilocus phylogenetic analysis
10.  Evaluation of Anti-SE Bacteriophage as Feed Additives to Prevent Salmonella enteritidis (SE) in Broiler 
This experiment was conducted to evaluate anti-Salmonella enteritidis (anti-SE) bacteriophage as feed additives to prevent Salmonella enteritidis in broilers. The experimental diets were formulated for 2 phases feeding trial, and 3 different levels (0.05, 0.1 and 0.2%) of anti-SE bacteriophage were supplemented in basal diet. The basal diet was regarded as the control treatment. A total of 320 1-d-old male broilers (Ross 308) were allotted by randomized complete block (RCB) design in 8 replicates with 10 chicks per pen. All birds were raised on rice hull bedding in ambient controlled environment and free access to feed and water. There were no significant differences in body weight gain, feed intake and feed conversion ratio (FCR) at terminal period among treatments (p>0.05). Relative weights of liver, spleen, abdominal fat and tissue muscle of breast obtained from each anti-SE bacteriophage treatment were similar to control, with a slightly higher value in anti-SE bacteriophage 0.2%. In addition, a numerical difference of glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT), glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (GPT) and LDL cholesterol level was observed in the 0.2% anti-SE bacteriophage application even though blood profiles were not significantly affected by supplemented levels of anti-SE bacteriophage (p>0.05). In the result of a 14 d record after Salmonella enteritidis challenge of 160 birds from 4 previous treatments, mortality was linearly decreased with increasing anti-SE bacteriophage level (p<0.05), and Salmonella enteritidis concentration in the cecum was decreased with increasing levels of anti-SE bacteriophage (p<0.05). Based on the results of this study, it is considered that supplementation of 0.2% anti-SE bacteriophage may not cause any negative effect on growth, meat production, and it reduces mortality after Salmonella enteritidis challenge. These results imply to a possible use of anti-SE bacteriophage as an alternative feed additive instead of antibiotics in broilers diet.
PMCID: PMC4093478  PMID: 25049801
Bacteriophage; Salmonella enteritidis; Phage Titer; Broiler
The Journal of General Physiology  1939;23(2):203-228.
A simple method of concentrating and purifying bacteriophage has been described. The procedure consisted essentially in collecting the active agent on a reinforced collodion membrane of a porosity that would just retain all the active agent and permit extraneous material to pass through. Advantage was taken of the fact that B. coli will proliferate and regenerate bacteriophage in a completely diffusible synthetic medium with ammonia as the only source of nitrogen, which permitted the purification of the bacteriophage by copious washing. The material thus obtained was concentrated by suction and after thorough washing possessed all the activity of the original filtrate. It was labile, losing its activity in a few days on standing, and was quickly and completely inactivated upon drying. This material contained approximately 15 per cent of nitrogen and with 2 or 3 mg. samples of inactive dry residue it was possible to obtain positive protein color tests. The concentrated and purified bacteriophage has about 10–14 mg. of nitrogen, or 6 x 10–17 gm. of protein per unit of lytic activity. Assuming that each unit of activity represents a molecule, the calculated maximum average molecular weight would be approximately 36,000,000, and on the assumption of a spherical shape of particles and a density of 1.3, the calculated radius would be about 22 millimicra. By measurement of the diffusion rate, the average radius of particle of the fraction of the purified bacteriophage which diffuses most readily through a porous plate was found to be of the order of magnitude of 9 millimicra, or of a calculated molecular weight of 2,250,000. Furthermore, when this purified bacteriophage was fractionated by forcing it through a thin collodion membrane, which permits the passage of only the smaller particles, it was possible to demonstrate in the ultrafiltrate active particles of about 2 millimicra in radius, and of a calculated molecular weight of 25,000. It was of interest to apply this method of purification to a staphylococcus bacteriophage. Since this organism does not readily grow in synthetic medium, a diffusate of yeast extract medium was employed. The better of two preparations contained about 10–12 mg. of nitrogen per unit of lytic activity. Although this is about one hundred times the amount of nitrogen found in an active unit of B. coli bacteriophage, nevertheless, the diffusion rate experiments gave results which paralleled those obtained with the coliphage. The diffusible particles of the crude staphylococcus bacteriophage had a radius of about 7 millimicra, and a calculated molecular weight of about 1,000,000, while the particles of the same phage which appeared in the ultrafiltrate through a thin collodion membrane had a radius of about 2.4 millimicra and a calculated molecular weight of about 45,000. It appears, therefore, that the active principle is distributed as particles of widely different sizes. However, since the smaller particles have all the properties of bacteriophage, the larger particles probably do not represent free molecules, but either are aggregates, or more likely, inactive colloids to which the active agent is adsorbed. The protein isolated, which bears the phage activity, is capable of stimulating the production of antilytic antibodies on parenteral injection into rabbits or guinea pigs. It retains its specific antigenicity when inactivated by formalin, but not when inactivated by drying.
PMCID: PMC2237916  PMID: 19873149
12.  Cloning, Expression, and Purification of the K5 Capsular Polysaccharide Lyase (KflA) from Coliphage K5A: Evidence for Two Distinct K5 Lyase Enzymes 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(13):3761-3766.
The Escherichia coli K5 capsular polysaccharide [-4)-βGlcA-(1,4)-αGlcNAc-(1-] is a receptor for the capsule-specific bacteriophage K5A. Associated with the structure of bacteriophage K5A is a polysaccharide lyase which degrades the K5 capsule to expose the underlying bacterial cell surface. The bacteriophage K5A lyase gene (kflA) was cloned and sequenced. The kflA gene encodes a polypeptide with a predicted molecular mass of 66.9 kDa and which exhibits amino acid homology with ElmA, a K5 polysaccharide lyase encoded on the chromosome of E. coli SEBR 3282. There was only limited nucleotide homology between the kflA and elmA genes, suggesting that these two genes are distinct and either have been derived from separate progenitors or have diverged from a common progenitor for a considerable length of time. Southern blot analysis revealed that kflA was not present on the chromosome of the E. coli strains examined. In contrast, elmA was present in a subset of E. coli strains. Homology was observed between DNA flanking the kflA gene of bacteriophage K5A and DNA flanking a small open reading frame (ORFL) located 5′ of the endosialidase gene of the E. coli K1 capsule-specific bacteriophage K1E. The DNA homology between these noncoding sequences indicated that bacteriophages K5A and K1E were related. The deduced polypeptide sequence of ORFL in bacteriophage K1E exhibited homology to the N terminus of KflA from bacteriophage K5A, suggesting that ORFL is a truncated remnant of KflA. The presence of this truncated kflA gene implies that bacteriophage K1E has evolved from bacteriophage K5A by acquisition of the endosialidase gene and subsequent loss of functional kflA. A (His)6-KflA fusion protein was overexpressed in E. coli and purified to homogeneity with a yield of 4.8 mg per liter of bacterial culture. The recombinant enzyme was active over a broad pH range and NaCl concentration and was capable of degrading K5 polysaccharide into a low-molecular-weight product.
PMCID: PMC94548  PMID: 10850992
13.  Carriage of stx2a Differentiates Clinical and Bovine-Biased Strains of Escherichia coli O157 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51572.
Shiga toxin (Stx) are cardinal virulence factors of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 (EHEC O157). The gene content and genomic insertion sites of Stx-associated bacteriophages differentiate clinical genotypes of EHEC O157 (CG, typical of clinical isolates) from bovine-biased genotypes (BBG, rarely identified among clinical isolates). This project was designed to identify bacteriophage-mediated differences that may affect the virulence of CG and BBG.
Stx-associated bacteriophage differences were identified by whole genome optical scans and characterized among >400 EHEC O157 clinical and cattle isolates by PCR.
Optical restriction maps of BBG strains consistently differed from those of CG strains only in the chromosomal insertion sites of Stx2-associated bacteriophages. Multiplex PCRs (stx1, stx2a, and stx2c as well as Stx-associated bacteriophage - chromosomal insertion site junctions) revealed four CG and three BBG that accounted for >90% of isolates. All BBG contained stx2c and Stx2c-associated bacteriophage – sbcB junctions. All CG contained stx2a and Stx2a-associated bacteriophage junctions in wrbA or argW.
Presence or absence of stx2a (or another product encoded by the Stx2a-associated bacteriophage) is a parsimonious explanation for differential virulence of BBG and CG, as reflected in the distributions of these genotypes in humans and in the cattle reservoir.
PMCID: PMC3519850  PMID: 23240045
14.  Viral Evasion of a Bacterial Suicide System by RNA–Based Molecular Mimicry Enables Infectious Altruism 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(10):e1003023.
Abortive infection, during which an infected bacterial cell commits altruistic suicide to destroy the replicating bacteriophage and protect the clonal population, can be mediated by toxin-antitoxin systems such as the Type III protein–RNA toxin-antitoxin system, ToxIN. A flagellum-dependent bacteriophage of the Myoviridae, ΦTE, evolved rare mutants that “escaped” ToxIN-mediated abortive infection within Pectobacterium atrosepticum. Wild-type ΦTE encoded a short sequence similar to the repetitive nucleotide sequence of the RNA antitoxin, ToxI, from ToxIN. The ΦTE escape mutants had expanded the number of these “pseudo-ToxI” genetic repeats and, in one case, an escape phage had “hijacked” ToxI from the plasmid-borne toxIN locus, through recombination. Expression of the pseudo-ToxI repeats during ΦTE infection allowed the phage to replicate, unaffected by ToxIN, through RNA–based molecular mimicry. This is the first example of a non-coding RNA encoded by a phage that evolves by selective expansion and recombination to enable viral suppression of a defensive bacterial suicide system. Furthermore, the ΦTE escape phages had evolved enhanced capacity to transduce replicons expressing ToxIN, demonstrating virus-mediated horizontal transfer of genetic altruism.
Author Summary
Bacteria are under constant attack by their viral parasites, bacteriophages, which outnumber bacteria by an estimated ten-to-one. The constant selection pressure from this predation promotes the evolution and dissemination of bacterial bacteriophage-resistance mechanisms. One family of protective systems causes the infected cell to undergo premature suicide, in an altruistic move that protects the clonal population of bacteria by blocking virus replication. We identified a means by which a bacteriophage counter-evolved to avoid one such system. This system relies on two components: a toxic part to kill the cell and an antidote that holds the toxin in check until required. The bacteriophage evolved sequences encoding mimics of the cellular antidote and expressed these mimics so that it could continue replicating without becoming a victim of the host's defensive system. Furthermore, this evolved bacteriophage was able to transfer the DNA encoding the defence system to a new bacterial host. In so doing, the evolved bacteriophage may have indirectly created populations of host cells inside which it could productively replicate, while also providing the host better protection from competing predators.
PMCID: PMC3475682  PMID: 23109916
15.  Virulence reduction in bacteriophage resistant bacteria 
Bacteriophages can influence the abundance, diversity, and evolution of bacterial communities. Several bacteriophages have been reported to add virulence factors to their host and to increase bacterial virulence. However, lytic bacteriophages can also exert a selective pressure allowing the proliferation of strains with reduced virulence. This reduction can be explained because bacteriophages use structures present on the bacterial surface as receptors, which can be virulence factors in different bacterial species. Therefore, strains with modifications in these receptors will be resistant to bacteriophage infection and may also exhibit reduced virulence. This mini-review summarizes the reports on bacteriophage-resistant strains with reductions in virulence, and it discusses the potential consequences in phage therapy and in the use of bacteriophages to select attenuated strains for vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4407575  PMID: 25954266
bacteriophagebacteriophage resistance; virulence change; bacteriophage receptor
16.  Real-time quantitative PCR to discriminate and quantify lambdoid bacteriophages of Escherichia coli K-12 
Bacteriophage  2012;2(2):98-104.
Quantification of bacteriophages by real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) is an interesting alternative to the traditional plaque assay. Importantly, the method should in principle be able to discriminate between closely related phages that are indistinguishable by most other means. Here, a method is presented that employs qPCR to discriminate and quantify ten closely related lambdoid phages of Escherichia coli str. K-12. It is shown that (1) treatment of samples with DNase efficiently removes non-encapsidated DNA, while the titer of plaque forming units is not affected, (2) individual phage types can be accurately quantified in mixed lysates, and (3) the detection limit corresponds to that of a plaque assay. The method is used to quantify individual phage types that are released from lysogens that carry up to three different prophages.
PMCID: PMC3442831  PMID: 23050220
multiple infections; real-time quantitative PCR; bacteriophages; Escherichia coli; bacteriophage lambda; lambdoid bacteriophages; detection; discrimination; quantification; polylysogeny
17.  An Ensemble Method to Distinguish Bacteriophage Virion from Non-Virion Proteins Based on Protein Sequence Characteristics 
Bacteriophage virion proteins and non-virion proteins have distinct functions in biological processes, such as specificity determination for host bacteria, bacteriophage replication and transcription. Accurate identification of bacteriophage virion proteins from bacteriophage protein sequences is significant to understand the complex virulence mechanism in host bacteria and the influence of bacteriophages on the development of antibacterial drugs. In this study, an ensemble method for bacteriophage virion protein prediction from bacteriophage protein sequences is put forward with hybrid feature spaces incorporating CTD (composition, transition and distribution), bi-profile Bayes, PseAAC (pseudo-amino acid composition) and PSSM (position-specific scoring matrix). When performing on the training dataset 10-fold cross-validation, the presented method achieves a satisfactory prediction result with a sensitivity of 0.870, a specificity of 0.830, an accuracy of 0.850 and Matthew’s correlation coefficient (MCC) of 0.701, respectively. To evaluate the prediction performance objectively, an independent testing dataset is used to evaluate the proposed method. Encouragingly, our proposed method performs better than previous studies with a sensitivity of 0.853, a specificity of 0.815, an accuracy of 0.831 and MCC of 0.662 on the independent testing dataset. These results suggest that the proposed method can be a potential candidate for bacteriophage virion protein prediction, which may provide a useful tool to find novel antibacterial drugs and to understand the relationship between bacteriophage and host bacteria. For the convenience of the vast majority of experimental scientists, a user-friendly and publicly-accessible web-server for the proposed ensemble method is established.
PMCID: PMC4613277  PMID: 26370987
bacteriophage virion proteins; ensemble method; hybrid features; relief
18.  Propagating the missing bacteriophages: a large bacteriophage in a new class 
Virology Journal  2007;4:21.
The number of successful propagations/isolations of soil-borne bacteriophages is small in comparison to the number of bacteriophages observed by microscopy (great plaque count anomaly). As one resolution of the great plaque count anomaly, we use propagation in ultra-dilute agarose gels to isolate a Bacillus thuringiensis bacteriophage with a large head (95 nm in diameter), tail (486 × 26 nm), corkscrew-like tail fibers (187 × 10 nm) and genome (221 Kb) that cannot be detected by the usual procedures of microbiology. This new bacteriophage, called 0305φ8-36 (first number is month/year of isolation; remaining two numbers identify the host and bacteriophage), has a high dependence of plaque size on the concentration of a supporting agarose gel. Bacteriophage 0305φ8-36 does not propagate in the traditional gels used for bacteriophage plaque formation and also does not produce visible lysis of liquid cultures. Bacteriophage 0305φ8-36 aggregates and, during de novo isolation from the environment, is likely to be invisible to procedures of physical detection that use either filtration or centrifugal pelleting to remove bacteria. Bacteriophage 0305φ8-36 is in a new genomic class, based on genes for both structural components and DNA packaging ATPase. Thus, knowledge of environmental virus diversity is expanded with prospect of greater future expansion.
PMCID: PMC1817643  PMID: 17324288
19.  Pulmonary Bacteriophage Therapy on Pseudomonas aeruginosa Cystic Fibrosis Strains: First Steps Towards Treatment and Prevention 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16963.
Multidrug-resistant bacteria are the cause of an increasing number of deadly pulmonary infections. Because there is currently a paucity of novel antibiotics, phage therapy—the use of specific viruses that infect bacteria—is now more frequently being considered as a potential treatment for bacterial infections. Using a mouse lung-infection model caused by a multidrug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa mucoid strain isolated from a cystic fibrosis patient, we evaluated bacteriophage treatments. New bacteriophages were isolated from environmental samples and characterized. Bacteria and bacteriophages were applied intranasally to the immunocompetent mice. Survival was monitored and bronchoalveolar fluids were analysed. Quantification of bacteria, bacteriophages, pro-inflammatory and cytotoxicity markers, as well as histology and immunohistochemistry analyses were performed. A curative treatment (one single dose) administrated 2 h after the onset of the infection allowed over 95% survival. A four-day preventive treatment (one single dose) resulted in a 100% survival. All of the parameters measured correlated with the efficacy of both curative and preventive bacteriophage treatments. We also showed that in vitro optimization of a bacteriophage towards a clinical strain improved both its efficacy on in vivo treatments and its host range on a panel of 20 P. aeruginosa cystic fibrosis strains. This work provides an incentive to develop clinical studies on pulmonary bacteriophage therapy to combat multidrug-resistant lung infections.
PMCID: PMC3039662  PMID: 21347240
20.  Quality-Controlled Small-Scale Production of a Well-Defined Bacteriophage Cocktail for Use in Human Clinical Trials 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4944.
We describe the small-scale, laboratory-based, production and quality control of a cocktail, consisting of exclusively lytic bacteriophages, designed for the treatment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus infections in burn wound patients. Based on succesive selection rounds three bacteriophages were retained from an initial pool of 82 P. aeruginosa and 8 S. aureus bacteriophages, specific for prevalent P. aeruginosa and S. aureus strains in the Burn Centre of the Queen Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels, Belgium. This cocktail, consisting of P. aeruginosa phages 14/1 (Myoviridae) and PNM (Podoviridae) and S. aureus phage ISP (Myoviridae) was produced and purified of endotoxin. Quality control included Stability (shelf life), determination of pyrogenicity, sterility and cytotoxicity, confirmation of the absence of temperate bacteriophages and transmission electron microscopy-based confirmation of the presence of the expected virion morphologic particles as well as of their specific interaction with the target bacteria. Bacteriophage genome and proteome analysis confirmed the lytic nature of the bacteriophages, the absence of toxin-coding genes and showed that the selected phages 14/1, PNM and ISP are close relatives of respectively F8, φKMV and phage G1. The bacteriophage cocktail is currently being evaluated in a pilot clinical study cleared by a leading Medical Ethical Committee.
PMCID: PMC2654153  PMID: 19300511
21.  Comparative Prevalence of Immune Evasion Complex Genes Associated with β-Hemolysin Converting Bacteriophages in MRSA ST5 Isolates from Swine, Swine Facilities, Humans with Swine Contact, and Humans with No Swine Contact 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(11):e0142832.
Livestock associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) draws concern from the public health community because in some countries these organisms may represent the largest reservoir of MRSA outside hospital settings. Recent studies indicate LA-MRSA strains from swine are more genetically diverse than the first reported sequence type ST398. In the US, a diverse population of LA-MRSA is found including organisms of the ST398, ST9, and ST5 lineages. Occurrence of ST5 MRSA in swine is of particular concern since ST5 is among the most prevalent lineages causing clinical infections in humans. The prominence of ST5 in clinical disease is believed to result from acquisition of bacteriophages containing virulence or host-adapted genes including the immune-evasion cluster (IEC) genes carried by β-hemolysin converting bacteriophages, whose absence in LA-MRSA ST398 is thought to contribute to reduced rates of human infection and transmission associated with this lineage. The goal of this study was to investigate the prevalence of IEC genes associated with β-hemolysin converting bacteriophages in MRSA ST5 isolates obtained from agricultural sources, including swine, swine facilities, and humans with short- or long-term swine exposure. To gain a broader perspective, the prevalence of these genes in LA-MRSA ST5 strains was compared to the prevalence in clinical MRSA ST5 strains from humans with no known exposure to swine. IEC genes were not present in any of the tested MRSA ST5 strains from agricultural sources and the β-hemolysin gene was intact in these strains, indicating the bacteriophage’s absence. In contrast, the prevalence of the β-hemolysin converting bacteriophage in MRSA ST5 strains from humans with no exposure to swine was 90.4%. The absence of β-hemolysin converting bacteriophage in LA-MRSA ST5 isolates is consistent with previous reports evaluating ST398 strains and provides genetic evidence indicating LA-MRSA ST5 isolates may harbor a reduced capacity to cause severe disease in immunocompetent humans.
PMCID: PMC4640548  PMID: 26554919
22.  Characterization of Enterococcus faecalis Phage IME-EF1 and Its Endolysin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80435.
Enterococcus faecalis is increasingly becoming an important nosocomial infection opportunistic pathogen. E. faecalis can easily obtain drug resistance, making it difficult to be controlled in clinical settings. Using bacteriophage as an alternative treatment to drug-resistant bacteria has been revitalized recently, especially for fighting drug-resistant bacteria. In this research, an E. faecalis bacteriophage named IME-EF1 was isolated from hospital sewage. Whole genomic sequence analysis demonstrated that the isolated IME-EF1 belong to the Siphoviridae family, and has a linear double-stranded DNA genome consisting of 57,081 nucleotides. The IME-EF1 genome has a 40.04% G+C content and contains 98 putative coding sequences. In addition, IME-EF1 has an isometric head with a width of 35 nm to 60 nm and length of 75 nm to 90 nm, as well as morphology resembling a tadpole. IME-EF1 can adsorb to its host cells within 9 min, with an absorbance rate more than 99% and a latent period time of 25 min. The endolysin of IME-EF1 contains a CHAP domain in its N-terminal and has a wider bactericidal spectrum than its parental bacteriophage, including 2 strains of vancomycin-resistant E. faecalis. When administrated intraperitoneally, one dose of IME-EF1 or its endolysin can reduce bacterial count in the blood and protected the mice from a lethal challenge of E. faecalis, with a survival rate of 60% or 80%, respectively. Although bacteriophage could rescue mice from bacterial challenge, to the best of our knowledge, this study further supports the potential function of bacteriophage in dealing with E. faecalis infection in vivo. The results also indicated that the newly isolated bacteriophage IME-EF1 enriched the arsenal library of lytic E. faecalis bacteriophages and presented another choice for phage therapy in the future.
PMCID: PMC3827423  PMID: 24236180
23.  The role of regulated clinical trials in the development of bacteriophage therapeutics 
Antibiotic resistance is now recognized as a major, global threat to human health and the need for the development of novel antibacterial therapies has become urgent. Lytic bacteriophages (phages) targeting individual bacterial pathogens have therapeutic potential as an alternative or adjunct to antibiotic use. Bacteriophage therapy has been used for decades, but clinical trials in this field are rare, leaving many questions unanswered as to its effectiveness for many infectious diseases. As a consequence bacteriophage therapy is not used or accepted in most parts of the world. The increasing need for new antimicrobial therapies is driving the development of bacteriophage therapies for a number of diseases but these require the successful completion of large-scale clinical trials in accordance with US FDA or European EMA guidelines. Bacteriophages are considered as biological agents by regulatory authorities and they are managed by biological medicinal products guidelines for European trials and guidelines of the division of vaccines and related product applications in the USA. Bacteriophage therapy is typically an ‘active’ treatment requiring multiplication in the bacterial host and therefore the factors that govern its success are different from those of conventional antibiotics. From the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic points of view, time of treatment, dosage depending on the site of infection and the composition of the bacteriophage formulation (single vs multiple strains) need careful consideration when designing clinical trials. Scientific evidence regarding inflammatory effects, potential for gene transfer and phage resistance, need to be evaluated through such trials. However purity, stability and sterility of preparations for human use can be addressed through Good Manufacturing Practises to reduce many potential safety concerns. In this review we discuss the potential for the development of bacteriophage therapy in the context of critical aspects of modern, regulated clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3410379  PMID: 22872803
Bacteriophage; active therapy; clinical trials; regulatory issues; safety; efficacy
24.  Nanoscale bacteriophage biosensors beyond phage display 
Bacteriophages are traditionally used for the development of phage display technology. Recently, their nanosized dimensions and ease with which genetic modifications can be made to their structure and function have put them in the spotlight towards their use in a variety of biosensors. In particular, the expression of any protein or peptide on the extraluminal surface of bacteriophages is possible by genetically engineering the genome. In addition, the relatively short replication time of bacteriophages offers researchers the ability to generate mass quantities of any given bacteriophage-based biosensor. Coupled with the emergence of various biomarkers in the clinic as a means to determine pathophysiological states, the development of current and novel technologies for their detection and quantification is imperative. In this review, we categorize bacteriophages by their morphology into M13-based filamentous bacteriophages and T4- or T7-based icosahedral bacteriophages, and examine how such advantages are utilized across a variety of biosensors. In essence, we take a comprehensive approach towards recent trends in bacteriophage-based biosensor applications and discuss their outlook with regards to the field of biotechnology.
PMCID: PMC3797607  PMID: 24143096
biosensing; M13 bacteriophage; T4 bacteriophage; bacterial detection; Escherichia coli; SPR sensor

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