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The Journal of General Physiology  1955;39(2):225-249.
Preparation of Reversibly Inactivated (R.I.) Phage.— If B. megatherium phage (of any type, or in any stage of purification) is suspended in dilute salt solutions at pH 5–6, it is completely inactivated; i.e., it does not form plaques, or give rise to more phage when mixed with a sensitive organism (Northrop, 1954). The inactivation occurs when the phage is added to the dilute salt solution. If a suspension of the inactive phage in pH 7 peptone is titrated to pH 5 and allowed to stand, the activity gradually returns. The inactivation is therefore reversible. Properties of R.I. Phage.— The R.I. phage is adsorbed by sensitive cells at about the same rate as the active phage. It kills the cells, but no active phage is produced. The R.I. phage therefore has the properties of phage "ghosts" (Herriott, 1951) or of colicines (Gratia, 1925), or phage inactivated by ultraviolet light (Luria, 1947). The R.I. phage is sedimented in the centrifuge at the same rate as active phage. It is therefore about the same size as the active phage. The R.I. phage is most stable in pH 7, 5 per cent peptone, and may be kept in this solution for weeks at 0°C. The rate of digestion of R.I. phage by trypsin, chymotrypsin, or desoxyribonuclease is about the same as that of active phage (Northrop, 1955 a). Effect of Various Substances on the Formation of R.I. Phage.— There is an equilibrium between R.I. phage and active phage. The R.I. form is the stable one in dilute salt solution, pH 5 to 6.5 and at low temperature (<20°C.). At pH >6.5, in dilute salt solution, the R.I. phage changes to the active form. The cycle, active ⇌ inactive phage, may be repeated many times at 0°C. by changing the pH of the solution back and forth between pH 7 and pH 6. Irreversible inactivation is caused by distilled water, some heavy metals, concentrated urea or quanidine solutions, and by l-arginine. Reversible inactivation is prevented by all salts tested (except those causing irreversible inactivation, above). The concentration required to prevent R.I. is lower, the higher the valency of either the anion or cation. There are great differences, however, between salts of the same valency, so that the chemical nature as well as the valency is important. Peptone, urea, and the amino acids, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, asparagine, dl-cystine, valine, and phenylalanine, stabilize the system at pH 7, so that no change occurs if a mixture of R.I. and active phage is added to such solutions. The active phage remains active and the R.I. phage remains inactive. The R.I. phage in pH 7 peptone becomes active if the pH is changed to 5.0. This does not occur in solutions of urea or the amino acids which stabilize at pH 7.0. Kinetics of Reversible Inactivation.— The inactivation is too rapid, even at 0° to allow the determination of an accurate time-inactivation curve. The rate is independent of the phage concentration and is complete in a few seconds, even in very dilute suspensions containing <1 x 104 particles/ml. This result rules out any type of bimolecular reaction, or any precipitation or agglutination mechanism, since the minimum theoretical time for precipitation (or agglutination) of a suspension of particles in a concentration of only 1 x 104 per ml. would be about 300 days even though every collision were effective. Mechanism of Salt Reactivation.— Addition of varying concentrations of MgSO4 (or many other salts) to a suspension of either active or R.I. phage in 0.01 M, pH 6 acetate buffer results in the establishment of an equilibrium ratio for active/R.I. phage. The higher the concentration of salt, the larger proportion of the phage is active. The results, with MgSO4, are in quantitative agreement with the following reaction: See PDF for Equation Effect of Temperature.— The rate of inactivation is too rapid to be measured with any accuracy, even at 0°C. The rate of reactivation in pH 5 peptone, at 0 and 10°, was measured and found to have a temperature coefficient Q10 = 1.5 corresponding to a value of E (Arrhenius' constant) of 6500 cal. mole–1. This agrees very well with the temperature coefficient for the reactivation of denatured soy bean trypsin inhibitor (Kunitz, 1948). The equilibrium between R.I. and active phage is shifted toward the active side by lowering the temperature. The ratio R.I.P./AP is 4.7 at 15° and 2.8 at 2°. This corresponds to a change in free energy of –600 cal. mole–1 and a heat of reaction of 11,000. These values are much lower than the comparative one for trypsin (Anson and Mirsky, 1934 a) or soy bean trypsin inhibitor (Kunitz, 1948). Neither the inactivation nor the reactivation reactions are affected by light. The results in general indicate that there is an equilibrium between active and R.I. phage. The R.I. phage is probably an intermediate step in the formation of inactive phage. The equilibrium is shifted to the active side by lowering the temperature, adjusting the pH to 7–8 (except in the presence of high concentrations of peptone), raising the salt concentration, or increasing the valency of the ions present. The reaction may be represented by the following: See PDF for Equation The assumption that the active/R.I. phage equilibrium represents an example of native/denatured protein equilibrium predicts all the results qualitatively. Quantitatively, however, it fails to predict the relative rate of digestion of the two forms by trypsin or chymotrypsin, and also the effect of temperature on the equilibrium.
PMCID: PMC2147528  PMID: 13271723
2.  Rapid and Accurate Detection of Bacteriophage Activity against Escherichia coli O157:H7 by Propidium Monoazide Real-Time PCR 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:319351.
Conventional methods to determine the efficacy of bacteriophage (phage) for biocontrol of E. coli require several days, due to the need to culture bacteria. Furthermore, cell surface-attached phage particles may lyse bacterial cells during experiments, leading to an overestimation of phage activity. DNA-based real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is a fast, sensitive, and highly specific means of enumerating pathogens. However, qPCR may underestimate phage activity due to its inability to distinguish viable from nonviable cells. In this study, we evaluated the suitability of propidium monoazide (PMA), a microbial membrane-impermeable dye that inhibits amplification of extracellular DNA and DNA within dead or membrane-compromised cells as a means of using qPCR to identify only intact E. coli cells that survive phage exposure. Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain R508N and 4 phages (T5-like, T1-like, T4-like, and O1-like) were studied. Results compared PMA-qPCR and direct plating and confirmed that PMA could successfully inhibit amplification of DNA from compromised/damaged cells E. coli O157:H7. Compared to PMA-qPCR, direct plating overestimated (P < 0.01) phage efficacy as cell surface-attached phage particles lysed E. coli O157:H7 during the plating process. Treatment of samples with PMA in combination with qPCR can therefore be considered beneficial when assessing the efficacy of bacteriophage for biocontrol of E. coli O157:H7.
PMCID: PMC4233675  PMID: 25530959
3.  Rapid and Sensitive Detection of Yersinia pestis Using Amplification of Plague Diagnostic Bacteriophages Monitored by Real-Time PCR 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11337.
Yersinia pestis, the agent of plague, has caused many millions of human deaths and still poses a serious threat to global public health. Timely and reliable detection of such a dangerous pathogen is of critical importance. Lysis by specific bacteriophages remains an essential method of Y. pestis detection and plague diagnostics.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The objective of this work was to develop an alternative to conventional phage lysis tests – a rapid and highly sensitive method of indirect detection of live Y. pestis cells based on quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) monitoring of amplification of reporter Y. pestis-specific bacteriophages. Plague diagnostic phages ϕA1122 and L-413C were shown to be highly effective diagnostic tools for the detection and identification of Y. pestis by using qPCR with primers specific for phage DNA. The template DNA extraction step that usually precedes qPCR was omitted. ϕA1122-specific qPCR enabled the detection of an initial bacterial concentration of 103 CFU/ml (equivalent to as few as one Y. pestis cell per 1-µl sample) in four hours. L-413C-mediated detection of Y. pestis was less sensitive (up to 100 bacteria per sample) but more specific, and thus we propose parallel qPCR for the two phages as a rapid and reliable method of Y. pestis identification. Importantly, ϕA1122 propagated in simulated clinical blood specimens containing EDTA and its titer rise was detected by both a standard plating test and qPCR.
Thus, we developed a novel assay for detection and identification of Y. pestis using amplification of specific phages monitored by qPCR. The method is simple, rapid, highly sensitive, and specific and allows the detection of only live bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2893161  PMID: 20596528
4.  Stability and Infectivity of Cytolethal Distending Toxin Type V Gene-Carrying Bacteriophages in a Water Mesocosm and under Different Inactivation Conditions 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(16):5818-5823.
Two cytolethal distending toxin (Cdt) type V-encoding bacteriophages (Φ62 and Φ125) were induced spontaneously from their wild-type Escherichia coli strains and from the lysogens generated in Shigella sonnei. The stability of Cdt phages was determined at various temperatures and pH values after 1 month of storage by means of infectivity tests using a plaque blot assay and analysis of phage genomes using real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR): both were highly stable. We assessed the inactivation of Cdt phages by thermal treatment, chlorination, UV radiation, and in a mesocosm in both summer and winter. The results for the two Cdt phages showed similar trends and were also similar to the phage SOM23 used for reference, but they showed a much higher persistence than Cdt-producing E. coli. Cdt phages showed maximal inactivation after 1 h at 70°C, 30 min of UV radiation, and 30 min of contact with a 10-ppm chlorine treatment. Inactivation in a mesocosm was higher in summer than in winter, probably because of solar radiation. The treatments reduced the number of infectious phages but did not have a significant effect on the Cdt phage particles detected by qPCR. Cdt phages were quantified by qPCR in 73% of river samples, and these results suggest that Cdt phages are a genetic vehicle and the natural reservoir for cdt in the environment.
PMCID: PMC3406162  PMID: 22685154
5.  A Yersinia pestis-specific, lytic phage preparation significantly reduces viable Y. pestis on various hard surfaces experimentally contaminated with the bacterium 
Bacteriophage  2012;2(3):168-177.
Five Y. pestis bacteriophages obtained from various sources were characterized to determine their biological properties, including their taxonomic classification, host range and genomic diversity. Four of the phages (YpP-G, Y, R and YpsP-G) belong to the Podoviridae family, and the fifth phage (YpsP-PST) belongs to the Myoviridae family, of the order Caudovirales comprising of double-stranded DNA phages. The genomes of the four Podoviridae phages were fully sequenced and found to be almost identical to each other and to those of two previously characterized Y. pestis phages Yepe2 and φA1122. However, despite their genomic homogeneity, they varied in their ability to lyse Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis strains. The five phages were combined to yield a “phage cocktail” (tentatively designated “YPP-100”) capable of lysing the 59 Y. pestis strains in our collection. YPP-100 was examined for its ability to decontaminate three different hard surfaces (glass, gypsum board and stainless steel) experimentally contaminated with a mixture of three genetically diverse Y. pestis strains CO92, KIM and 1670G. Five minutes of exposure to YPP-100 preparations containing phage concentrations of ca. 109, 108 and 107 PFU/mL completely eliminated all viable Y. pestis cells from all three surfaces, but a few viable cells were recovered from the stainless steel coupons treated with YPP-100 diluted to contain ca. 106 PFU/mL. However, even that highly diluted preparation significantly (p = < 0.05) reduced Y. pestis levels by ≥ 99.97%. Our data support the idea that Y. pestis phages may be useful for decontaminating various hard surfaces naturally- or intentionally-contaminated with Y. pestis.
PMCID: PMC3530526  PMID: 23275868
bacteriophage; phage; Yersinia pestis; surface decontamination
6.  The Tripartite Associations between Bacteriophage, Wolbachia, and Arthropods 
PLoS Pathogens  2006;2(5):e43.
By manipulating arthropod reproduction worldwide, the heritable endosymbiont Wolbachia has spread to pandemic levels. Little is known about the microbial basis of cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) except that bacterial densities and percentages of infected sperm cysts associate with incompatibility strength. The recent discovery of a temperate bacteriophage (WO-B) of Wolbachia containing ankyrin-encoding genes and virulence factors has led to intensifying debate that bacteriophage WO-B induces CI. However, current hypotheses have not considered the separate roles that lytic and lysogenic phage might have on bacterial fitness and phenotype. Here we describe a set of quantitative approaches to characterize phage densities and its associations with bacterial densities and CI. We enumerated genome copy number of phage WO-B and Wolbachia and CI penetrance in supergroup A- and B-infected males of the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis. We report several findings: (1) variability in CI strength for A-infected males is positively associated with bacterial densities, as expected under the bacterial density model of CI, (2) phage and bacterial densities have a significant inverse association, as expected for an active lytic infection, and (3) CI strength and phage densities are inversely related in A-infected males; similarly, males expressing incomplete CI have significantly higher phage densities than males expressing complete CI. Ultrastructural analyses indicate that approximately 12% of the A Wolbachia have phage particles, and aggregations of these particles can putatively occur outside the Wolbachia cell. Physical interactions were observed between approximately 16% of the Wolbachia cells and spermatid tails. The results support a low to moderate frequency of lytic development in Wolbachia and an overall negative density relationship between bacteriophage and Wolbachia. The findings motivate a novel phage density model of CI in which lytic phage repress Wolbachia densities and therefore reproductive parasitism. We conclude that phage, Wolbachia, and arthropods form a tripartite symbiotic association in which all three are integral to understanding the biology of this widespread endosymbiosis. Clarifying the roles of lytic and lysogenic phage development in Wolbachia biology will effectively structure inquiries into this research topic.
Symbiotic bacteria that are maternally inherited are widespread in terrestrial invertebrates. Such bacteria infect the cells of reproductive tissues and can have important evolutionary and developmental effects on the host. Often these inherited symbionts develop beneficial relationships with their hosts, but some species can also selfishly alter invertebrate reproduction to increase the numbers of infected females (the transmitting sex of the bacteria) in the population. Bacterial-mediated distortions such as male-killing, feminization, parthenogenesis induction, and cytoplasmic incompatibility are collectively known as “reproductive parasitism.” In this article, the investigators show that the associations between the most common reproductive parasite in the biosphere (Wolbachia) and a parasitic wasp host are affected by a mobile element—a temperate bacteriophage of Wolbachia. In contrast to recent reports that suggest bacteriophage WO-B may induce reproductive parasitism, the authors' quantitative and ultrastructural analyses indicate that lytic phage WO-B are lethal and therefore associate with a reduction in both Wolbachia densities and reproductive parasitism. Based on these data, the authors propose a phage density model in which lytic phage development specifically leads to a reduction, rather than induction, of reproductive parisitism. The study is among the first investigations to show that lytic bacteriophage inversely associate with the densities and phenotype of an obligate intracellular bacterium.
PMCID: PMC1463016  PMID: 16710453
7.  Doxorubicin-conjugated bacteriophages carrying anti-MHC class I chain-related A for targeted cancer therapy in vitro 
OncoTargets and therapy  2014;7:2183-2195.
Cancer therapy by systemic administration of anticancer drugs, besides the effectiveness shown on cancer cells, demonstrated the side effects and cytotoxicity on normal cells. The targeted drug-carrying nanoparticles may decrease the required drug concentration at the site and the distribution of drugs to normal tissues. Overexpression of major histocompatibility complex class I chain–related A (MICA) in cancer is useful as a targeted molecule for the delivery of doxorubicin to MICA-expressing cell lines.
The application of 1-ethyl-3-[3-dimethylaminopropyl] carbodiimide (EDC) chemistry was employed to conjugate the major coat protein of bacteriophages carrying anti-MICA and doxorubicin in a mildly acid condition. Doxorubicin (Dox) on phages was determined by double fluorescence of phage particles stained by M13-fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) and drug autofluorescence by flow cytometry. The ability of anti-MICA on phages to bind MICA after doxorubicin conjugation was evaluated by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. One cervical cancer and four cholangiocarcinoma cell lines expressing MICA were used as models to evaluate targeting activity by cell cytotoxicity test.
Flow cytometry and indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay demonstrated that most of the phages (82%) could be conjugated with doxorubicin, and the Dox-carrying phage-displaying anti-MICA (Dox-phage) remained the binding activity against MICA. Dox-phage was more efficient than free drugs in killing all the cell lines tested. The half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of Dox-phage were lower than those of free drugs at approximately 1.6–6 times depending on MICA expressions and the cell lines tested.
Evidently, the application of 1-ethyl-3-[3-dimethylaminopropyl] carbodiimide chemistry is effective to conjugate doxorubicin and major coat protein of bacteriophages without destroying binding activity of MICA antibodies. Dox-carrying bacteriophages targeting MICA have been successfully developed and may enable a broad range of applications in cancer-targeting chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4259261  PMID: 25506223
MHC class I chain–related A (MICA); phage display; doxorubicin; targeted therapy
8.  Sampling Natural Viral Communities from Soil for Culture-Independent Analyses 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2003;69(11):6628-6633.
An essential first step in investigations of viruses in soil is the evaluation of viral recovery methods suitable for subsequent culture-independent analyses. In this study, four elution buffers (10% beef extract, 250 mM glycine buffer, 10 mM sodium pyrophosphate, and 1% potassium citrate) and three enumeration techniques (plaque assay, epifluorescence microscopy [EFM], and transmission electron microscopy [TEM]) were compared to determine the best method of extracting autochthonous bacteriophages from two Delaware agricultural soils. Beef extract and glycine buffer were the most effective in eluting viable phages inoculated into soils (up to 29% recovery); however, extraction efficiency varied significantly with phage strain. Potassium citrate eluted the highest numbers of virus-like particles from both soils based on enumerations by EFM (mean, 5.3 × 108 g of dry soil−1), but specific soil-eluant combinations posed significant problems to enumeration by EFM. Observations of virus-like particles under TEM gave confidence that the particles were, in fact, phages, but TEM enumerations yielded measurements of phage abundance (mean, 1.5×108 g of dry soil−1) that were about five times lower. Clearly, the measurement of phage abundance in soils varies with both the extraction and enumeration methodology; thus, it is important to assess multiple extraction and enumeration approaches prior to undertaking ecological studies of phages in a particular soil.
PMCID: PMC262263  PMID: 14602622
9.  The Kil Peptide of Bacteriophage λ Blocks Escherichia coli Cytokinesis via ZipA-Dependent Inhibition of FtsZ Assembly 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004217.
Assembly of the essential, tubulin-like FtsZ protein into a ring-shaped structure at the nascent division site determines the timing and position of cytokinesis in most bacteria and serves as a scaffold for recruitment of the cell division machinery. Here we report that expression of bacteriophage λ kil, either from a resident phage or from a plasmid, induces filamentation of Escherichia coli cells by rapid inhibition of FtsZ ring formation. Mutant alleles of ftsZ resistant to the Kil protein map to the FtsZ polymer subunit interface, stabilize FtsZ ring assembly, and confer increased resistance to endogenous FtsZ inhibitors, consistent with Kil inhibiting FtsZ assembly. Cells with the normally essential cell division gene zipA deleted (in a modified background) display normal FtsZ rings after kil expression, suggesting that ZipA is required for Kil-mediated inhibition of FtsZ rings in vivo. In support of this model, point mutations in the C-terminal FtsZ-interaction domain of ZipA abrogate Kil activity without discernibly altering FtsZ-ZipA interactions. An affinity-tagged-Kil derivative interacts with both FtsZ and ZipA, and inhibits sedimentation of FtsZ filament bundles in vitro. Together, these data inspire a model in which Kil interacts with FtsZ and ZipA in the cell to prevent FtsZ assembly into a coherent, division-competent ring structure. Phage growth assays show that kil+ phage lyse ∼30% later than kil mutant phage, suggesting that Kil delays lysis, perhaps via its interaction with FtsZ and ZipA.
Author Summary
Bacterial antibiotic resistance is a serious concern, particularly its role in hospital-acquired infection. Viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophage) can kill their host, and some prevent the bacterial cell from reproducing during that process. Since their discovery, phage have been considered a potential tool against bacterial infection, but little is known regarding how phage-encoded factors may inhibit bacterial cell division. Understanding the interaction between phage factors and the targeted host systems is therefore a critical research goal. Our report focuses on E. coli and λ, a well-studied phage that infects it. λ contains a gene, kil, whose expression prevents E. coli from dividing, causing cells to grow into long filaments that die. Here we report that Kil protein prevents an essential bacterial protein, FtsZ, from properly assembling into the structure needed for cell division. Our data show that Kil can inhibit FtsZ assembly directly in vitro, but that ZipA, another essential cell division protein, enhances its activity on FtsZ in vivo. The results of our study elucidate one way that a phage naturally inhibits bacterial reproduction, which could serve as a target for rational antibiotic design.
PMCID: PMC3961180  PMID: 24651041
10.  Noise in timing and precision of gene activities in a genetic cascade 
The timing of events along the induction cascade of bacteriophage lambda is independent of UV dose and displays increased relative temporal precision with cascade progression.This behavior is reproduced by a model of a cascade consisting of independent steps that shows that higher temporal precision can be attained by a cascade consisting of a large number of fast steps.The observed cell-cell variability in cascade timing is not due to differences in uniform dilation of intervals between events among cells, but rather to the independent distribution of interval durations within the cascade, consistently with the modular architecture of the lambda genome.The single-cell time lapse study reveals a bistable regime at low UV doses in which some cells are induced while others are not, evidence for a commitment point beyond which lysis will occur, and an unexpected shutoff of the lambda pR promoter.
Stochasticity or noise, an inherent property of all biological networks, is often manifested by different phenotypic behaviors in clonal populations of cells (Raser and O'Shea, 2005). Noise can arise, for instance, from sources such as cell–cell variations in small numbers of regulatory molecules or from the stochastic nature of molecular interactions (Paulsson, 2005). Besides affecting the number of molecules in a cell, noise may also lead to variability in timing of particular events along a given pathway. In this work, we studied temporal noise in the induction cascade of phage lambda.
Infection of a bacterial cell by bacteriophage lambda can lead to two different fates (Ptashne, 2004; Dodd et al, 2005; Oppenheim et al, 2005): the phage can either multiply inside the host leading to its eventual lysis and the generation of progeny virions (the lytic pathway) or, alternatively, it can integrate its genome into the host's genome (prophage state), replicating passively with the latter (the lysogenic pathway). The prophage state is highly stable, being maintained by a phage-encoded repressor, which shuts off phage genes leading to lytic growth. However, the lytic pathway can be induced in a lysogenic cell, through the activation of the bacterial SOS response to DNA damage (Little, 1996), for example by UV irradiation. Once activated, the SOS response results in cleavage of the lambda repressor, leading to expression of the phage early and late genes, and culminating in the lysis of the host cell.
The lambda induction cascade has been extensively characterized over the years. We built upon this knowledge to tap the cascade at different points and quantitatively analyze the progressive loss of temporal coherence between cells, as different stages along the cascade are executed, following synchronous induction. Using time-lapse microscopy, we monitored the time of activation of early and late genes in individual cells using lambda pR and pR′-tR′ promoter-GFP fusions, respectively, by means of reporter plasmids, and finally the time of lysis. Sample results are shown in Figure 2.
At low UV levels (5 J/m2), the network exhibits bistability: only approximately 40% of the bacteria lyse, whereas the others continue to divide, following a lag period. At high UV levels (20 J/m2), almost all bacteria lyse. We found that the timing of events in cells that lyse is independent of UV dose. This is in contrast to the known behavior of the SOS network (Friedman et al, 2005), indicating that these two networks proceed independently. Following induction, a surprising shutoff in the activity of the pR promoter is observed in all cells (see Figure 2). Furthermore, the data show that whereas early genes are expressed in all cells irrespective of cell fate, late genes are expressed only in the lysing cells, indicating that similar to infection, a specific commitment checkpoint is operating.
To characterize the temporal variability in a cell population, we used the coefficient of variation, defined as the non-dimensional ratio of the standard deviation and the mean time of occurrence of a particular event. We studied the changes in both standard deviation and coefficient of variation in timing of various events along the lambda induction cascade, from the expression of the early genes to the ultimate lysis of the cells. As shown in Figure 6, the absolute noise as measured by the standard deviation increases as the cascade progresses. In contrast, the coefficient of variation, which measures variability relative to the time of occurrence, decreases. Simple theoretical considerations described in the text yield a necessary and sufficient condition for a monotonic decrease in the coefficient of variation. Higher temporal precision can be achieved when the cascade is composed of a large number of fast steps.
Further support for the independence of network modules is furnished by a correlation analysis of the times of occurrence of different steps along the lytic cascade. This analysis also indicates that the variability in lysis time is not due to differences in the global rate of cascade progression, but probably to random fluctuations in the execution time of the various cascade stages. Indeed, phage lambda gene expression architecture is well known to have evolved from a number of independent regulatory modules (Hendrix, 2003).
Biological developmental pathways require proper timing of gene expression. We investigated timing variations of defined steps along the lytic cascade of bacteriophage λ. Gene expression was followed in individual lysogenic cells, after induction with a pulse of UV irradiation. At low UV doses, some cells undergo partial induction and eventually divide, whereas others follow the lytic pathway. The timing of events in cells committed to lysis is independent of the level of activation of the SOS response, suggesting that the lambda network proceeds autonomously after induction. An increased loss of temporal coherence of specific events from prophage induction to lysis is observed, even though the coefficient of variation of timing fluctuations decreases. The observed temporal variations are not due to cell factors uniformly dilating the timing of execution of the cascade. This behavior is reproduced by a simple model composed of independent stages, which for a given mean duration predicts higher temporal precision, when a cascade consists of a large number of steps. Evidence for the independence of regulatory modules in the network is presented.
PMCID: PMC1828745  PMID: 17299413
bacteriophage λ; noise; precision; prophage induction; timing
11.  Evaluation of methods to purify virus-like particles for metagenomic sequencing of intestinal viromes 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):7.
Viruses are a significant component of the intestinal microbiota in mammals. In recent years, advances in sequencing technologies and data analysis techniques have enabled detailed metagenomic studies investigating intestinal viromes (collections of bacteriophage and eukaryotic viral nucleic acids) and their potential contributions to the ecology of the microbiota. An important component of virome studies is the isolation and purification of virus-like particles (VLPs) from intestinal contents or feces. Several methods have been applied to isolate VLPs from intestinal samples, yet to our knowledge, the efficiency and reproducibility between methods have not been explored. A rigorous evaluation of methods for VLP purification is critical as many studies begin to move from descriptive analyses of virus diversity to studies striving to quantitatively compare viral abundances across many samples. Therefore, reproducible VLP purification methods which allow for high sample throughput are needed. Here we compared and evaluated four methods for VLP purification using artificial intestinal microbiota samples of known bacterial and viral composition.
We compared the following four methods of VLP purification from fecal samples: (i) filtration + DNase, (ii) dithiothreitol treatment + filtration + DNase, (iii) filtration + DNase + PEG precipitation and (iv) filtration + DNase + CsCl density gradient centrifugation. Three of the four tested methods worked well for VLP purification. We observed several differences between methods related to the removal efficiency of bacterial and host DNAs and biases against specific phages. In particular the CsCl density gradient centrifugation method, which is frequently used for VLP purification, was most efficient in removing host derived DNA, but also showed strong discrimination against specific phages and showed a lower reproducibility of quantitative results.
Based on our data we recommend the use of methods (i) or (ii) for large scale studies when quantitative comparison of viral abundances across samples is required. The CsCl density gradient centrifugation method, while being excellently suited to achieve highly purified samples, in our opinion, should be used with caution when performing quantitative studies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-014-1207-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4308010  PMID: 25608871
Virus metagenomics; Viral metagenomes; Virus-like particles; Microbiome; Bacteriophage; CsCl density gradient
12.  Enumeration of Bacteriophages and Host Bacteria in Sewage and the Activated-Sludge Treatment Process 
Bacteriophage populations in an activated-sludge sewage treatment plant were enumerated. A newly developed assay for quantitation of total phages, employing direct electron microscopic counts, was used in conjunction with the plaque assay. The total concentration of phages was significantly higher in reactor mixed liquor and effluent than in influent sewage, indicating a net production of phages within the reactor. Maximum total phage concentrations in the fluid phase of sewage, activated-sludge mixed liquor, and reactor effluent were 2.2 × 107, 9.5 × 107, and 8.4 × 107/ml, respectively. Conditions were optimized for isolation of predominant heterotrophic aerobic bacteria from sewage and mixed liquor. Blending at ice water temperatures was superior to ultrasound or enzyme treatments for maximum release of viable bacteria from microbial floc. A solidified extract of mixed liquor was superior to standard media for cultivating maximum numbers of heterotrophic bacteria. The highest culture counts for sewage and mixed liquor were 1.4 × 107 and 1.3 × 109/ml, respectively, which represented only 3 and 6.8% of the total microscopic cell counts. Only 3 out of 48 dominant bacterial isolates from either mixed liquor or sewage were hosts for phages present in the system. The sum of phage populations infecting these three hosts accounted for, at best, 3.8% (sewage) and 0.2% (mixed liquor) of the total number of phages present. Generally, specific phage titers were lower in mixed liquor than in sewage, indicating that these hosts were not responsible for the net production of phages in the reactor. This study emphasizes the limitations of the plaque assay for ecological studies of phages, and it suggests that bacteria responsible for phage production in activated-sludge mixed liquor are either minor components of the heterotrophic population, floc-producing strains, or members of other physiological groups.
PMCID: PMC291381  PMID: 7387157
13.  PHACTS, a computational approach to classifying the lifestyle of phages 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(5):614-618.
Motivation: Bacteriophages have two distinct lifestyles: virulent and temperate. The virulent lifestyle has many implications for phage therapy, genomics and microbiology. Determining which lifestyle a newly sequenced phage falls into is currently determined using standard culturing techniques. Such laboratory work is not only costly and time consuming, but also cannot be used on phage genomes constructed from environmental sequencing. Therefore, a computational method that utilizes the sequence data of phage genomes is needed.
Results: Phage Classification Tool Set (PHACTS) utilizes a novel similarity algorithm and a supervised Random Forest classifier to make a prediction whether the lifestyle of a phage, described by its proteome, is virulent or temperate. The similarity algorithm creates a training set from phages with known lifestyles and along with the lifestyle annotation, trains a Random Forest to classify the lifestyle of a phage. PHACTS predictions are shown to have a 99% precision rate.
Availability and implementation: PHACTS was implemented in the PERL programming language and utilizes the FASTA program (Pearson and Lipman, 1988) and the R programming language library ‘Random Forest’ (Liaw and Weiner, 2010). The PHACTS software is open source and is available as downloadable stand-alone version or can be accessed online as a user-friendly web interface. The source code, help files and online version are available at
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3289917  PMID: 22238260
1. Osmotic shock disrupts particles of phage T2 into material containing nearly all the phage sulfur in a form precipitable by antiphage serum, and capable of specific adsorption to bacteria. It releases into solution nearly all the phage DNA in a form not precipitable by antiserum and not adsorbable to bacteria. The sulfur-containing protein of the phage particle evidently makes up a membrane that protects the phage DNA from DNase, comprises the sole or principal antigenic material, and is responsible for attachment of the virus to bacteria. 2. Adsorption of T2 to heat-killed bacteria, and heating or alternate freezing and thawing of infected cells, sensitize the DNA of the adsorbed phage to DNase. These treatments have little or no sensitizing effect on unadsorbed phage. Neither heating nor freezing and thawing releases the phage DNA from infected cells, although other cell constituents can be extracted by these methods. These facts suggest that the phage DNA forms part of an organized intracellular structure throughout the period of phage growth. 3. Adsorption of phage T2 to bacterial debris causes part of the phage DNA to appear in solution, leaving the phage sulfur attached to the debris. Another part of the phage DNA, corresponding roughly to the remaining half of the DNA of the inactivated phage, remains attached to the debris but can be separated from it by DNase. Phage T4 behaves similarly, although the two phages can be shown to attach to different combining sites. The inactivation of phage by bacterial debris is evidently accompanied by the rupture of the viral membrane. 4. Suspensions of infected cells agitated in a Waring blendor release 75 per cent of the phage sulfur and only 15 per cent of the phage phosphorus to the solution as a result of the applied shearing force. The cells remain capable of yielding phage progeny. 5. The facts stated show that most of the phage sulfur remains at the cell surface and most of the phage DNA enters the cell on infection. Whether sulfur-free material other than DNA enters the cell has not been determined. The properties of the sulfur-containing residue identify it as essentially unchanged membranes of the phage particles. All types of evidence show that the passage of phage DNA into the cell occurs in non-nutrient medium under conditions in which other known steps in viral growth do not occur. 6. The phage progeny yielded by bacteria infected with phage labeled with radioactive sulfur contain less than 1 per cent of the parental radioactivity. The progeny of phage particles labeled with radioactive phosphorus contain 30 per cent or more of the parental phosphorus. 7. Phage inactivated by dilute formaldehyde is capable of adsorbing to bacteria, but does not release its DNA to the cell. This shows that the interaction between phage and bacterium resulting in release of the phage DNA from its protective membrane depends on labile components of the phage particle. By contrast, the components of the bacterium essential to this interaction are remarkably stable. The nature of the interaction is otherwise unknown. 8. The sulfur-containing protein of resting phage particles is confined to a protective coat that is responsible for the adsorption to bacteria, and functions as an instrument for the injection of the phage DNA into the cell. This protein probably has no function in the growth of intracellular phage. The DNA has some function. Further chemical inferences should not be drawn from the experiments presented.
PMCID: PMC2147348  PMID: 12981234
The Journal of General Physiology  1951;34(5):715-735.
Cell multiplication and phage formation of lysogenic B. megatherium cultures have been determined under various conditions and in various culture media. 1. In general, the more rapid the growth of the culture, the more phage is produced. No conditions or culture media could be found which resulted in phage production without cell growth. 2. Cultures which produce phage grow normally, provided they are shaken. If they are allowed to stand, those which are producing phage undergo lysis. Less phage is produced by these cultures than by the ones which continue to grow. 3. Cells plated from such phage-producing cultures in liquid yeast extract medium grow normally on veal infusion broth agar or tryptose phosphate broth agar, which does not support phage formation, but will not grow on yeast extract agar. 4. Any amino acid except glycine, tyrosine, valine, leucine, and lysine can serve as a nitrogen source. Aspartic acid gives the most rapid cell growth. 5. The ribose nucleic acid content is higher in those cells which produce phage. 6. The organism requires higher concentrations of Mg, Ca, Sr, or Mn to produce phage than for growth. 7. The lysogenic culture can be grown indefinitely in media containing high phosphate concentrations. No phage is produced under these conditions, but the cells produce phage again in a short time after the addition of Mg. The potential ability to produce phage, therefore, is transmitted through cell division. 8. Colonies developed from spores which have been heated to 100°C. for 5 minutes produce phage and hence, infected cells must divide. 9. No phage can be detected after lysis of the cells by lysozyme.
PMCID: PMC2147265  PMID: 14832449
16.  The bacteriophage kh receptor of Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris KH is the rhamnose of the extracellular wall polysaccharide. 
A receptor for bacteriophages of lactic acid bacteria, including Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris KH, was found on the cell wall and not on the cell membrane, as determined by a phage-binding assay of sodium dodecyl sulfate- and mutanolysin-treated cell walls. The cell wall carbohydrates of L. lactis subsp. cremoris KH were analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry and found to contain rhamnose, galactose, glucose and N-acetylglucosamine. Similar analysis of mutants that were reduced in the ability to bind phages kh, 643, c2, ml3, and 1 indicated that galactose was essential for binding all phages. In addition, rhamnose was required for binding phages kh and ml3. Inhibition studies of phage binding by using two different lectins with a specificity for galactose indicated that phage kh may not bind directly to galactose. Rather, galactose may be an essential structural component located in the vicinity of the receptor. Incubation of any of the five phages with rhamnose or of phage kh with purified cell walls inactivated the phages. Inactivation required divalent cations and was irreversible. Inactivation of phages was stereospecific for rhamnose, as neither L-(+)- nor D-(-)-fucose (the stereoisomers of rhamnose) inhibited the phage. Furthermore, phage infection of a culture was completely inhibited by the addition of rhamnose to the medium. Therefore, the receptor for phage kh appears to be a rhamnose component of the extracellular wall polysaccharide.
PMCID: PMC184526  PMID: 2116761
17.  Concurrent Changes in Transducing Efficiency and Content of Transforming Deoxyribonucleic Acid in Bacillus subtilis Bacteriophage SP-10 
Journal of Bacteriology  1966;91(1):81-88.
Taylor, Martha J. (Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.), and Curtis B. Thorne. Concurrent changes in transducing efficiency and content of transforming deoxyribonucleic acid in Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage SP-10. J. Bacteriol. 91:81–88. 1966.—Spores of Bacillus subtilis W-23-Sr infected with transducing phage SP-10 served as convenient inocula for broth cultures from which transducing phage was harvested. Methods are described for producing highly infected spores. The inoculum level of infected spores in nutrient broth-yeast extract-glucose medium affected the transducing efficiency of SP-10 in lysates of these cultures. Phage in lysates of cultures inoculated with about 105 or fewer spores per milliliter transduced 20- to 350-fold more efficiently than did phage in lysates from cultures inoculated with 106 to 107 spores per milliliter. Transduction frequencies in the order of 10−5 per plaque-forming unit were obtained routinely, and some infected-spore preparations yielded phage that gave frequencies as high as 10−4. The combination of inoculum level and incubation time required to produce the best transducing phage had to be determined empirically for each batch of infected spores. Several possible explanations for the difference between lysates having high (HTE) and those having low (LTE) transducing efficiency were ruled out by special experiments. The hypothesis is presented that some cultural condition resulting from a relatively low inoculum of phage-infected spores favors the incorporation by phage particles of bacterial deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in the manner required for the production of transducing phage. Support for this hypothesis is a demonstration, through transformation experiments with DNA extracted from HTE and LTE phage particles, that populations of HTE phage particles yielded significantly more (7 to 27 times) transforming activity per microgram of DNA than did populations of LTE phage.
PMCID: PMC315913  PMID: 4955254
18.  An Undergraduate Laboratory Activity Demonstrating Bacteriophage Specificity† 
Bacteriophage are among the most diverse and numerous microbes inhabiting our planet. Yet many laboratory activities fail to engage students in meaningful exploration of their diversity, unique characteristics, and abundance. In this curriculum activity students use a standard plaque assay to enumerate bacteriophage particles from a natural sample and use the scientific method to address questions about host specificity and diversity. A raw primary sewage sample is enriched for bacteriophage using hosts in the family Enterobacteriaceae. Students hypothesize about host specificity and use quantitative data (serial dilution and plaque assay) to test their hypotheses. Combined class data also help them answer questions about phage diversity. The exercise was field tested with a class of 47 students using pre- and posttests. For all learning outcomes posttest scores were higher than pretest scores at or below p = 0.01. Average individualized learning gain (G) was also calculated for each learning outcome. Students’ use of scientific language in reference to bacteriophage and host interaction significantly improved (p = 0.002; G = 0.50). Improved means of expression helped students construct better hypotheses on phage host specificity (G = 0.31, p = 0.01) and to explain the plaque assay method (G = 0.33, p = 0.002). At the end of the exercise students also demonstrated improved knowledge and understanding of phage specificity as related to phage therapy in humans (p < 0.001; G = 51).
PMCID: PMC3706169  PMID: 23858357
19.  Bacteriophage-Resistant Mutants in Yersinia pestis: Identification of Phage Receptors and Attenuation for Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25486.
Bacteriophages specific for Yersinia pestis are routinely used for plague diagnostics and could be an alternative to antibiotics in case of drug-resistant plague. A major concern of bacteriophage therapy is the emergence of phage-resistant mutants. The use of phage cocktails can overcome this problem but only if the phages exploit different receptors. Some phage-resistant mutants lose virulence and therefore should not complicate bacteriophage therapy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The purpose of this work was to identify Y. pestis phage receptors using site-directed mutagenesis and trans-complementation and to determine potential attenuation of phage-resistant mutants for mice. Six receptors for eight phages were found in different parts of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) inner and outer core. The receptor for R phage was localized beyond the LPS core. Most spontaneous and defined phage-resistant mutants of Y. pestis were attenuated, showing increase in LD50 and time to death. The loss of different LPS core biosynthesis enzymes resulted in the reduction of Y. pestis virulence and there was a correlation between the degree of core truncation and the impact on virulence. The yrbH and waaA mutants completely lost their virulence.
We identified Y. pestis receptors for eight bacteriophages. Nine phages together use at least seven different Y. pestis receptors that makes some of them promising for formulation of plague therapeutic cocktails. Most phage-resistant Y. pestis mutants become attenuated and thus should not pose a serious problem for bacteriophage therapy of plague. LPS is a critical virulence factor of Y. pestis.
PMCID: PMC3182234  PMID: 21980477
20.  Comparison of rapid tests for detection of rifampicin-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Kampala, Uganda 
Drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) is a growing concern worldwide. Rapid detection of resistance expedites appropriate intervention to control the disease. Several technologies have recently been reported to detect rifampicin resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis directly in sputum samples. These include phenotypic culture based methods, tests for gene mutations and tests based on bacteriophage replication. The aim of the present study was to assess the feasibility of implementing technology for rapid detection of rifampicin resistance in a high disease burden setting in Africa.
Sputum specimens from re-treatment TB patients presenting to the Mulago Hospital National TB Treatment Centre in Kampala, Uganda, were examined by conventional methods and simultaneously used in one of the four direct susceptibility tests, namely direct BACTEC 460, Etest, "in-house" phage test, and INNO- Rif.TB. The reference method was the BACTEC 460 indirect culture drug susceptibility testing. Test performance, cost and turn around times were assessed.
In comparison with indirect BACTEC 460, the respective sensitivities and specificities for detecting rifampicin resistance were 100% and 100% for direct BACTEC and the Etest, 94% and 95% for the phage test, and 87% and 87% for the Inno-LiPA assay. Turn around times ranged from an average of 3 days for the INNO-LiPA and phage tests, 8 days for the direct BACTEC 460 and 20 days for the Etest. All methods were faster than the indirect BACTEC 460 which had a mean turn around time of 24 days. The cost per test, including labour ranged from $18.60 to $41.92 (USD).
All four rapid technologies were shown capable of detecting rifampicin resistance directly from sputum. The LiPA proved rapid, but was the most expensive. It was noted, however, that the LiPA test allows sterilization of samples prior to testing thereby reducing the risk of accidental laboratory transmission. In contrast the Etest was low cost, but slow and would be of limited assistance when treating patients. The phage test was the least reproducible test studied with failure rate of 27%. The test preferred by the laboratory personnel, direct BACTEC 460, requires further study to determine its accuracy in real-time treatment decisions in Uganda.
PMCID: PMC2744678  PMID: 19709423
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
22.  Dynamics of success and failure in phage and antibiotic therapy in experimental infections 
BMC Microbiology  2002;2:35.
In 1982 Smith and Huggins showed that bacteriophages could be at least as effective as antibiotics in preventing mortality from experimental infections with a capsulated E. coli (K1) in mice. Phages that required the K1 capsule for infection were more effective than phages that did not require this capsule, but the efficacies of phages and antibiotics in preventing mortality both declined with time between infection and treatment, becoming virtually ineffective within 16 hours.
We develop quantitative microbiological procedures that (1) explore the in vivo processes responsible for the efficacy of phage and antibiotic treatment protocols in experimental infections (the Resistance Competition Assay, or RCA), and (2) survey the therapeutic potential of phages in vitro (the Phage Replication Assay or PRA). We illustrate the application and utility of these methods in a repetition of Smith and Huggins' experiments, using the E. coli K1 mouse thigh infection model, and applying treatments of phages or streptomycin.
1) The Smith and Huggins phage and antibiotic therapy results are quantitatively and qualitatively robust. (2) Our RCA values reflect the microbiological efficacies of the different phages and of streptomycin in preventing mortality, and reflect the decline in their efficacy with a delay in treatment. These results show specifically that bacteria become refractory to treatment over the term of infection. (3) The K1-specific and non-specific phages had similar replication rates on bacteria grown in broth (based on the PRA), but the K1-specific phage had markedly greater replication rates in mouse serum.
PMCID: PMC138797  PMID: 12453306
23.  Metastatic prostate cancer cell-specific phage-like particles as a targeted gene-delivery system 
One of the cardinal requirements for effective therapeutic management of tumors is the selective delivery of cancer drugs to the right site by ligand-decorated nanomedicines. Screening of 2 × 109 clone landscape phage library provides a reliable avenue for generating protein ligands specific for tumor cells. It was shown that selective phage proteins derived from landscape phage libraries against breast and prostate cancer cells are able to navigate drug or siRNA loaded liposomes to corresponding cancer cells with minimal toxicity to non-neoplastic cells. In an alternative platform, glioma cell-specific phage proteins were used for assembling in vivo cancer-specific phage-like particles, named ‘phagemid infective particles’ as targeted gene-delivery vehicles.
To extend the panel of anticancer cell phages, we have screened a 2 × 109 clone landscape phage library f8/8 to select phage clones specific for metastatic prostate cancer cell PC-3M. The phage clones were characterized for their selective interaction with PC-3M cells using phage capture assay, immunofluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy. A prostate cancer selective phage was converted to phage-like particles harboring emerald green fluorescent protein.
Phage clone EPTHSWAT (designated by the sequence of inserted peptide) was found to be most selective for PC-3M cells and was observed to internalize PC-3M cells as revealed by immunofluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy. Conversion of this phage to phage-like particles harboring emerald green fluorescent protein and the expression of emerald green fluorescent protein in the phage-like particles treated PC-3M cells showed potential of adoption of this phage-like particle in prostate cancer therapeutic gene delivery.
Successful employment of phage-like particles expressing emerald green fluorescent protein genes targeted to prostate cancer cells PC-3M confirms a prospect of their use for targeted delivery of therapeutic genes to cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3849713  PMID: 24059645
Phage-like particles; Prostate cancer; Phage; Gene-delivery
1. The reaction between an antistaphlycoccal phage and the homologous bacterium has been studied, applying the following experimental technics not used in earlier work reported from this laboratory: (a) Both the activity assay and the plaque count were utilized for determining [phage]. (b) Sampling was done at short intervals; i.e., every 0.1 hour. (c) Extracellular phage was separated from the cell-bound fraction by a filtration procedure permitting passage of < 95 per cent of free phage. 2. Using these technics, the reaction was followed: (a) with pH maintained at 6.10 and temperature at 28°C. to slow the process; (b) with pH maintained at 7.2 and temperature at 36°C. 3. In addition separate experiments were performed on the sorption of phage by bacteria at 30°, 23°, and 0°C. 4. At pH 6.10 and 28°C. the phage-bacterium reaction proceeds in the following sequence: (a) There is an initial phase of rapid logarithmic sorption of phage to susceptible cells, during which the total phage activity and the plaque numbers in the mixtures remain constant. (b) When 90 per cent of the phage has been bound, there is a sudden very rapid increase in phage activity not paralleled by an increase in plaques; i.e., phage is formed intracellularly, but is retained within cellular confines. (c) After a further drop in the extracellular phage fraction there occurs a pronounced increase in the total phage plaque count not accompanied by any increase in total activity. This indicates a redistribution of phage formed intracellularly. At the same time there is a rise in the extracellular phage curves (both activity and plaque). (d) With the concentrations of phage and bacteria used in the experiment carried out at pH 6.1 and 28°C. there are two further increments in [phage]act. before massive lysis begins. (e) During terminal lysis there are sharp rises in the curves for [total phage]plaq., [extracellular phage]act., and [extracellular phage]plaq.. (f) Immediately after the completion of lysis there is a considerable disparity between measurements of total phage and extracellular phage, probably occasioned by the association of phage molecules with cellular debris, the latter being of sufficient size to be removed by the super-cel filters. 5. At pH 7.2 and 36°C. the steps in the phage production curve as determined by activity assay and plaque count are much less prominent than those observed at pH 6.1 and 28°C. However, the plateaus described by Ellis and Delbrück (10) for B. coli and coli phage can be detected also in the present case if frequent samples are taken. 6. The sorption experiments show a significant rise in the rate of phage uptake with increase in temperature, again supporting the view that the reaction involves more than a purely physical adsorption. 7. Delbrück's objections to: (a) the use of the activity assay for determining [total phage] in mixtures of phage and susceptible cells, and (b), to the demonstration of phage precursor in "activated" bacteria have been analyzed. 8. The activity assay has been demonstrated to be an accurate procedure for determining either phage free in solution or phage bound to living susceptible cells, under the conditions of the experiments reported here and in earlier work. 9. The titration values obtained in the experiments designed to exhibit intracellular phage precursor are not the result of artifacts as Delbrück has inferred. The data can be interpreted in terms of the precursor theory, although other explanations are not ruled out.
PMCID: PMC2142814  PMID: 19873475
25.  Primary Isolation Strain Determines Both Phage Type and Receptors Recognised by Campylobacter jejuni Bacteriophages 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0116287.
In this study we isolated novel bacteriophages, infecting the zoonotic bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. These phages may be used in phage therapy of C. jejuni colonized poultry to prevent spreading of the bacteria to meat products causing disease in humans. Many C. jejuni phages have been isolated using NCTC12662 as the indicator strain, which may have biased the selection of phages. A large group of C. jejuni phages rely on the highly diverse capsular polysaccharide (CPS) for infection and recent work identified the O-methyl phosphoramidate modification (MeOPN) of CPS as a phage receptor. We therefore chose seven C. jejuni strains each expressing different CPS structures as indicator strains in a large screening for phages in samples collected from free-range poultry farms. Forty-three phages were isolated using C. jejuni NCTC12658, NCTC12662 and RM1221 as host strains and 20 distinct phages were identified based on host range analysis and genome restriction profiles. Most phages were isolated using C. jejuni strains NCTC12662 and RM1221 and interestingly phage genome size (140 kb vs. 190 kb), host range and morphological appearance correlated with the isolation strain. Thus, according to C. jejuni phage grouping, NCTC12662 and NCTC12658 selected for CP81-type phages, while RM1221 selected for CP220-type phages. Furthermore, using acapsular ∆kpsM mutants we demonstrated that phages isolated on NCTC12658 and NCTC12662 were dependent on the capsule for infection. In contrast, CP220-type phages isolated on RM1221 were unable to infect non-motile ∆motA mutants, hence requiring motility for successful infection. Hence, the primary phage isolation strain determines both phage type (CP81 or CP220) as well as receptors (CPS or flagella) recognised by the isolated phages.
PMCID: PMC4293142  PMID: 25585385

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