A high-throughput 96-well plate-based method for the rapid induction of endogenous prophages from individual bacterial strains was developed. The detection of endogenous prophages was achieved by the filtration of the culture liquor following norfloxacin induction and subsequent PCRs targeting bacteriophage-carried gene markers. The induction method was tested on 188 putative Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains and demonstrated the ability to detect both lambdoid and stx-carrying bacteriophages in strains for which plaques were not observed via plaque assay. Lambdoid bacteriophages were detected in 37% of the induced phage preparations via amplification of the Q gene, and Stx1- and Stx2-encoding phages were detected in 2 and 14% of the strains, respectively. The method therefore provided greater sensitivity for the detection of Stx and other lambdoid bacteriophage populations carried by STEC strains than that for the established method of plaque assay using bacterial indicator strains, enabling, for the first time, large-scale bacteriophage population and diversity studies.
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.
Stx bacteriophages in 68 samples of beef and salad were quantified by real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR). Stx phages from the samples were propagated in Escherichia coli C600, E. coli O157:H7, and Shigella strains and further quantified. Fifty percent of the samples carried infectious Stx phages that were isolated from plaques generated by lysis.
Infections of bacterial cultures by bacteriophages are serious problems in biotechnological laboratories. Apart from such infections, prophage induction in the host cells may also be dangerous. Escherichia coli is a commonly used host in biotechnological production, and many laboratory strains of this bacterium harbour lambdoid prophages. These prophages may be induced under certain conditions leading to phage lytic development. This is fatal for further cultivations as relatively low, though still significant, numbers of phages may be overlooked. Thus, subsequent cultures of non-lysogenic strains may be infected and destroyed by such phage.
Here we report that slow growth of bacteria decreases deleterious effects of spontaneous lambdoid prophage induction. Moreover, replacement of glucose with glycerol in a medium stimulates lysogenic development of the phage after infection of E. coli cells. A plasmid was constructed overexpressing the phage 434 cI gene, coding for the repressor of phage promoters which are necessary for lytic development. Overproduction of the cI repressor abolished spontaneous induction of the λimm434 prophage.
Simple procedures that alleviate problems with spontaneous induction of lambdoid prophage and subsequent infection of E. coli strains by these phages are described. Low bacterial growth rate, replacement of glucose with glycerol in a medium and overproduction of the cI repressor minimise the risk of prophage induction during cultivation of lysogenic bacteria and subsequent infection of other bacterial strains.
Previous works have demonstrated that DNA breaks generated by restriction enzymes stimulate, and are repaired by, homologous recombination with an intact, homologous DNA region through the function of lambdoid bacteriophages lambda and Rac. In the present work, we examined the effect of bacteriophage functions, expressed in bacterial cells, on restriction of an infecting tester phage in a simple plaque formation assay. The efficiency of plaque formation on an Escherichia coli host carrying EcoRI, a type II restriction system, is not increased by the presence of Rac prophage—presumably because, under the single-infection conditions of the plaque assay, a broken phage DNA cannot find a homologue with which to recombine. To our surprise, however, we found that the efficiency of plaque formation in the presence of a type III restriction system, EcoP1 or EcoP15, is increased by the bacteriophage-mediated homologous recombination functions recE and recT of Rac prophage. This type III restriction alleviation does not depend on lar on Rac, unlike type I restriction alleviation. On the other hand, bacterial RecBCD-homologous recombination function enhances type III restriction. These results led us to hypothesize that the action of type III restriction enzymes takes place on replicated or replicating DNA in vivo and leaves daughter DNAs with breaks at nonallelic sites, that bacteriophage-mediated homologous recombination reconstitutes an intact DNA from them, and that RecBCD exonuclease blocks this repair by degradation from the restriction breaks.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are food-borne pathogens whose ability to produce Shiga toxin (Stx) is due to integration of Stx-encoding lambdoid bacteriophages. These Stx phages are both genetically and morphologically heterogeneous, and here we report the design and validation of a PCR-based multilocus typing scheme. PCR primer sets were designed for database variants of a range of key lambdoid bacteriophage genes and applied to control phages and 70 stx+ phage preparations induced from a collection of STEC isolates. The genetic diversity residing within these populations could be described, and observations were made on the heterogeneity of individual gene targets, including the unexpected predominance of short-tailed phages with a highly conserved tail spike protein gene. Purified Stx phages can be profiled using this scheme, and the lambdoid phage-borne genes in induced STEC preparations can be identified as well as those residing in the noninducible prophage complement. The ultimate goal is to enable robust and realistically applicable epidemiological studies of Stx phages and their traits. The impact of Stx phage on STEC epidemiology is currently unknown.
Bacteriophages are increasingly being utilized and considered for various practical applications, ranging from decontaminating foods and inanimate surfaces to human therapy; therefore, it is important to determine their concentrations quickly and reliably. Traditional plaque assay (PA) is the current “gold standard” for quantitating phage titers. However, it requires at least 18 h before results are obtained, and they may be significantly influenced by various factors. Therefore, two alternative assays based on the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) and NanoSight Limited (NS) technologies were recently proposed for enumerating phage particles. The present study compared the three approaches' abilities to quantitate Listeria monocytogenes-, Escherichia coli O157:H7- and Yersinia pestis-specific lytic phages quickly and reproducibly. The average coefficient of variation (CVS) of the PA method including all three phages was 0.15. The reproducibility of the PA method decreased dramatically when multiple investigators performed the assays, and mean differences of as much as 0.33 log were observed. The QPC R method required costly equipment and the synthesis of phage-specific oligonucleotide primers, but it determined phage concentrations faster (within about 4 h) and more precisely than did PA (CVS = 0.13). NS technology required costly equipment, was less precise (CVS = 0.28) than the PA and QPCR methods, and only worked when the phages were suspended in clear medium. However, it provided results within 5 min. After the overall correlation is established with the PA method, either of the two assays may be useful for quickly and reproducibly determining phage concentrations.
bacteriophage; phage; plaque assays; phage titer
Shigatoxigenic E. coli are a global and emerging health concern. Shiga toxin, Stx, is encoded on the genome of temperate, lambdoid Stx phages. Genes essential for phage maintenance and replication are encoded on approximately 50% of the genome, while most of the remaining genes are of unknown function nor is it known if these annotated hypothetical genes are even expressed. It is hypothesized that many of the latter have been maintained due to positive selection pressure, and that some, expressed in the lysogen host, have a role in pathogenicity. This study used Change Mediated Antigen Technology (CMAT)™ and 2D-PAGE, in combination with RT-qPCR, to identify Stx phage genes that are expressed in E. coli during the lysogenic cycle.
Lysogen cultures propagated for 5-6 hours produced a high cell density with a low proportion of spontaneous prophage induction events. The expression of 26 phage genes was detected in these cultures by differential 2D-PAGE of expressed proteins and CMAT. Detailed analyses of 10 of these genes revealed that three were unequivocally expressed in the lysogen, two expressed from a known lysogenic cycle promoter and one uncoupled from the phage regulatory network.
Propagation of a lysogen culture in which no cells at all are undergoing spontaneous lysis is impossible. To overcome this, RT-qPCR was used to determine gene expression profiles associated with the growth phase of lysogens. This enabled the definitive identification of three lambdoid Stx phage genes that are expressed in the lysogen and seven that are expressed during lysis. Conservation of these genes in this phage genome, and other Stx phages where they have been identified as present, indicates their importance in the phage/lysogen life cycle, with possible implications for the biology and pathogenicity of the bacterial host.
Within-host competition between parasites is frequently invoked as a major force for parasite evolution, yet quantitative studies on its extent in an organismal group are lacking. Temperate bacteriophages are diverse and abundant parasites of bacteria, distinguished by their ability to enter a facultative dormant state in their host. Bacteria can accumulate multiple phages that may eventually abandon dormancy in response to host stress. Host resources are then converted into phage particles, whose release requires cell death. To study within-host competition between phages, I used the bacterium Escherichia coli and 11 lambdoid phages to construct single and double lysogens. Lysogenic bacterial cultures were then induced and time to host cell lysis and productivity of phages was measured. In double lysogens, this revealed strong competitive interactions as in all cases productivity of at least one phage declined. The outcome of within-host competition was often asymmetrical, and phages were found to vary hierarchically in within-host competitive ability. In double infections, the phage with the shorter lysis time determined the timing of cell lysis, which was associated with a competitive advantage when time differences were large. The results emphasize that within-host competition greatly affects phage fitness and that multiple infections should be considered an integral part of bacteriophage ecology.
multiple infection; within-host competition; polylysogeny; evolution of virulence; Escherichia coli; bacteriophage λ
Shiga toxins (Stx) are the main virulence factors associated with a form of Escherichia coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). They are encoded in temperate lambdoid phages located on the chromosome of STEC. STEC strains can carry more than one prophage. Consequently, toxin and phage production might be influenced by the presence of more than one Stx prophage on the bacterial chromosome. To examine the effect of the number of prophages on Stx production, we produced E. coli K-12 strains carrying either one Stx2 prophage or two different Stx2 prophages. We used recombinant phages in which an antibiotic resistance gene (aph, cat, or tet) was incorporated in the middle of the Shiga toxin operon. Shiga toxin was quantified by immunoassay and by cytotoxicity assay on Vero cells (50% cytotoxic dose). When two prophages were inserted in the host chromosome, Shiga toxin production and the rate of lytic cycle activation fell. The cI repressor seems to be involved in incorporation of the second prophage. Incorporation and establishment of the lysogenic state of the two prophages, which lowers toxin production, could be regulated by the CI repressors of both prophages operating in trans. Although the sequences of the cI genes of the phages studied differed, the CI protein conformation was conserved. Results indicate that the presence of more than one prophage in the host chromosome could be regarded as a mechanism to allow genetic retention in the cell, by reducing the activation of lytic cycle and hence the pathogenicity of the strains.
N15 is the only bacteriophage of Escherichia coli known to lysogenize as a linear plasmid. Clear-plaque mutations lie in at least two regions of the 46-kb genome. We have cloned, sequenced, and characterized the primary immunity region, immB. This region contains a gene, cB, whose product shows homology to lambdoid phage repressors. The cB3 mutation confers thermoinducibility on N15 lysogens, consistent with CB being the primary repressor of N15. Downstream of cB lies the locus of N15 plasmid replication. Upstream of cB lies an operon predicted to encode two products: one homologous to the late repressor of P22 (Cro), the other homologous to the late antiterminator of phi 82 (Q). The Q-like protein is essential for phage development. We show that CB protein regulates the expression of genes that flank the cB gene by binding to DNA at symmetric 16-bp sites. Three sites are clustered upstream of cB and overlap a predicted promoter of the cro and Q-like genes as well as two predicted promoters of cB itself. Two sites downstream of cB overlap a predicted promoter of a plasmid replication gene, repA, consistent with the higher copy number of the mutant, N15cB3. The leader region of repA contains terminators in both orientations and a putative promoter. The organization of these regulatory elements suggests that N15 plasmid replication is controlled not only by CB but also by an antisense RNA and by a balance between termination and antitermination.
Hybrids between Escherichia coli K-12 and Salmonella typhosa which conserved a continuous K-12 chromosomal diploid segment extending from pro through ara to the strA locus were sensitive to plaque formation by wild-type λ. These partially diploid S. typhosa hybrids could be lysogenized with λ and subsequently induced to produce infectious phage particles. When the K-12 genes were segregated from a lysogenic S. typhosa hybrid, phage-productive ability was no longer detectable due to loss of a genetic region necessary for vegetative replication of λ. However, λ prophage was shown to persist in a quiescent state in the S. typhosa hybrid segregant with phage-productive ability being reactivated after replacement of the essential K-12 λ replication region. Low-frequency transduction and high-frequency transduction lysates containing the gal+ genes of S. typhosa were prepared by induction of λ-lysogenic S. typhosa hybrids indicating that the attλ site is chromosomally located in S. typhosa in close proximity to the gal locus as in E. coli K-12. After propagation in S. typhosa hybrids, λ was subject to restriction by E. coli K-12 recipients, thus establishing that S. typhosa does not perform the K-12 modification of λ deoxyribonucleic acid. Hybrids of S. typhosa, however, did not restrict λ grown previously on E. coli K-12. The K-12 genetic region required for λ phage production in S. typhosa was located within min 66 to min 72 on the genetic map of the E. coli chromosome. Transfer of an F-merogenote encompassing the 66 to 72 min E. coli chromosomal region to λ-insensitive S. typhosa hybrids enabled them to replicate wild-type λ. The λ-insensitive S. typhosa hybrid, WR4255, which blocks λ replication, can be mutagenized to yield mutant strains sensitive to λvir and λimm434. These WR4255 mutants remained insensitive to plaque formation by wild-type λ.
The argU (dnaY) gene of Escherichia coli is located, in clockwise orientation, at 577.5 kilobases (kb) on the chromosome physical map. There was a cryptic prophage spanning the 2 kb immediately downstream of argU that consisted of sequences similar to the phage P22 int gene, a portion of the P22 xis gene, and portions of the exo, P, and ren genes of bacteriophage lambda. This cryptic prophage was designated DLP12, for defective lambdoid prophage at 12 min. Immediately clockwise of DLP12 was the IS3 alpha 4 beta 4 insertion element. The argU and DLP12 int genes overlapped at their 3' ends, and argU contained sequence homologous to a portion of the phage P22 attP site. Additional homologies to lambdoid phages were found in the 25 kb clockwise of argU. These included the cryptic prophage qsr' (P. J. Highton, Y. Chang, W. R. Marcotte, Jr., and C. A. Schnaitman, J. Bacteriol. 162:256-262, 1985), a sequence homologous to a portion of lambda orf-194, and an attR homolog. Inasmuch as the DLP12 att int xis exo P/ren region, the qsr' region, and homologs of orf-194 and attR were arranged in the same order and orientation as the lambdoid prophage counterparts, we propose that the designation DLP12 be applied to all these sequences. This organization of the DLP12 sequences and the presence of the argU/DLP12 int pair in several E. coli strains and closely related species suggest that DLP12 might be an ancestral lambdoid prophage. Moreover, the presence of similar sequences at the junctions of DLP12 segments and their phage counterparts suggests that a common mechanism could have transferred these DLP12 segments to more recent phages.
The genes encoding Shiga toxin (stx), the major virulence factor of Shiga toxin-encoding Escherichia coli (STEC) strains, are carried on lambdoid prophages resident in all known STEC strains. The stx genes are expressed only during lytic growth of these temperate bacteriophages. We cloned the gene encoding the repressor of the Shiga toxin-encoding bacteriophage 933W and examined the DNA binding and transcriptional regulatory activities of the overexpressed, purified protein. Typical of nearly all lambdoid phage repressors, 933W repressor binds to three sites in 933W right operator (OR). Also typical, when bound at OR, 933W repressor functions as an activator at the PRM promoter and a repressor at the PR promoter. In contrast to other lambdoid bacteriophages, 933W left operator (OL) contains only two repressor binding sites, but the OL-bound repressor still efficiently represses PL transcription. Lambdoid prophage induction requires inactivation of the repressor's DNA binding activity. In all phages examined thus far, this inactivation requires a RecA-stimulated repressor autoproteolysis event, with cleavage occurring precisely in an Ala-Gly dipeptide sequence that is found within a “linker ” region that joins the two domains of these proteins. However, 933W repressor protein contains neither an Ala-Gly nor an alternative Cys-Gly dipeptide cleavage site anywhere in its linker sequence. We show here that the autocleavage occurs at a Leu-Gly dipeptide. Thus, the specificity of the repressor autocleavage site is more variable than thought previously.
Specialized lambda transducing phages for the sul+ (supD-) amber suppressor in Escherichia coli K-12 have been isolated, using a secondary site lambda-cI857 lysogen in which we have shown the prophage to be closely linked to sul+.sul+ transducing particles were detected frequently, at 10-5 per plaque-forming unit, in lysates prepared from the secondary-site lysogens. High-frequency transducing lysates were obtained from several independently isolated sul+ transductants and were analyzed by CsCl equilibrium density gradient centrifugation. The transducing phages are defective; marker rescue analysis indicates that the lambda-N gene is not present. In lambda-cI857DELTANdSul+, a bio-type transducing phage, the genes specifying recombination and excision functions have been replaced by bacterial deoxyribonucleic acid.
The genes encoding Shiga toxin (Stx), the major virulence factor of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, are carried in the genomes of bacteriophages that belong to the lambdoid family of phages. Previous studies demonstrated that induction of prophages encoding stx significantly enhances the production and/or release of Stx from the bacterium. Therefore, factors that regulate the switch between lysogeny and lytic growth, e.g., repressor, operator sites, and associated phage promoters, play important roles in regulating the production and/or release of Stx. We report the results of genetic and biochemical studies characterizing these elements of the Stx-encoding bacteriophage 933W. Like λ, 933W has three operator repeats in the right operator region (OR), but unlike λ and all other studied lambdoid phages, which have three operator repeats in the left operator region (OL), 933W only has two operator repeats in OL. As was observed with λ, the 933W OR and OL regions regulate transcription from the early PR and PL promoters, respectively. A lysogen carrying a 933W derivative encoding a noncleavable repressor fails to produce Stx, unlike a lysogen carrying a 933W derivative encoding a cleavable repressor. This finding provides direct evidence that measurable expression of the stx genes encoded by a 933W prophage requires induction of that prophage with the concomitant initiation of phage gene expression.
Shiga toxin-converting bacteriophages (Stx phages) are involved in the pathogenicity of some enteric bacteria, such as Escherichia coli O157:H7. Stx phages are released from their bacterial hosts after lytic induction and remain free in the environment. Samples were analyzed for the presence of free Stx phages by an experimental approach based on the use of real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR), which enables stx to be detected in the DNA from the viral fraction of each sample. A total of 150 samples, including urban raw sewage samples, wastewater samples with fecal contamination from cattle, pigs, and poultry, and fecal samples from humans and diverse animals, were used in this study. Stx phages were detected in 70.0% of urban sewage samples (10 to 103 gene copies [GC] per ml) and in 94.0% of animal wastewater samples of several origins (10 to 1010 GC per ml). Eighty-nine percent of cattle fecal samples were positive for Stx phages (10 to 105 GC per g of sample), as were 31.8% of other fecal samples of various origins (10 to 104 GC per g of sample). The stx2 genes and stx2 variants were detected in the viral fraction of some of the samples after sequencing of stx2 fragments amplified by conventional PCR. The occurrence and abundance of Stx phages in the extraintestinal environment confirm the role of Stx phages as a reservoir of stx in the environment.
The novel temperate bacteriophage Lula, contaminating laboratory Escherichia coli strains, turned out to be the well-known lambdoid phage phi80. Our previous studies revealed that two characteristics of Lula/phi80 facilitate its spread in the laboratory environment: cryptic lysogen productivity and stealthy infectivity. To understand the genetics/genomics behind these traits, we sequenced and annotated the Lula/phi80 genome, encountering an E. coli-toxic gene revealed as a gap in the sequencing contig and analyzing a few genes in more detail. Lula/phi80's genome layout copies that of lambda, yet homology with other lambdoid phages is mostly limited to the capsid genes. Lula/phi80's DNA is resistant to cutting with several restriction enzymes, suggesting DNA modification, but deletion of the phage's damL gene, coding for DNA adenine methylase, did not make DNA cuttable. The damL mutation of Lula/phi80 also did not change the phage titer in lysogen cultures, whereas the host dam mutation did increase it almost 100-fold. Since the high phage titer in cultures of Lula/phi80 lysogens is apparently in response to endogenous DNA damage, we deleted the only Lula/phi80 SOS-controlled gene, dinL. We found that dinL mutant lysogens release fewer phage in response to endogenous DNA damage but are unchanged in their response to external DNA damage. The toxic gene of Lula/phi80, gamL, encodes an inhibitor of the host ATP-dependent exonucleases, RecBCD and SbcCD. Its own antidote, agt, apparently encoding a modifier protein, was found nearby. Interestingly, Lula/phi80 lysogens are recD and sbcCD phenocopies, so GamL and Agt are part of lysogenic conversion.
The system comprising bacteriophage (phage) lambda and the bacterium E. coli has long served as a paradigm for cell-fate determination1,2. Following the simultaneous infection of the cell by a number of phages, one of two pathways is chosen: lytic (virulent) or lysogenic (dormant)3,4. We recently developed a method for fluorescently labeling individual phages, and were able to examine the post-infection decision in real-time under the microscope, at the level of individual phages and cells5. Here, we describe the full procedure for performing the infection experiments described in our earlier work5. This includes the creation of fluorescent phages, infection of the cells, imaging under the microscope and data analysis. The fluorescent phage is a "hybrid", co-expressing wild- type and YFP-fusion versions of the capsid gpD protein. A crude phage lysate is first obtained by inducing a lysogen of the gpD-EYFP (Enhanced Yellow Fluorescent Protein) phage, harboring a plasmid expressing wild type gpD. A series of purification steps are then performed, followed by DAPI-labeling and imaging under the microscope. This is done in order to verify the uniformity, DNA packaging efficiency, fluorescence signal and structural stability of the phage stock. The initial adsorption of phages to bacteria is performed on ice, then followed by a short incubation at 35°C to trigger viral DNA injection6. The phage/bacteria mixture is then moved to the surface of a thin nutrient agar slab, covered with a coverslip and imaged under an epifluorescence microscope. The post-infection process is followed for 4 hr, at 10 min interval. Multiple stage positions are tracked such that ~100 cell infections can be traced in a single experiment. At each position and time point, images are acquired in the phase-contrast and red and green fluorescent channels. The phase-contrast image is used later for automated cell recognition while the fluorescent channels are used to characterize the infection outcome: production of new fluorescent phages (green) followed by cell lysis, or expression of lysogeny factors (red) followed by resumed cell growth and division. The acquired time-lapse movies are processed using a combination of manual and automated methods. Data analysis results in the identification of infection parameters for each infection event (e.g. number and positions of infecting phages) as well as infection outcome (lysis/lysogeny). Additional parameters can be extracted if desired.
Since high hydrostatic pressure is becoming increasingly important in modern food preservation, its potential effects on microorganisms need to be thoroughly investigated. In this context, mild pressures (<200 MPa) have recently been shown to induce an SOS response in Escherichia coli MG1655. Due to this response, we observed a RecA- and LexA-dependent induction of lambda prophage upon treating E. coli lysogens with sublethal pressures. In this report, we extend this observation to lambdoid Shiga toxin (Stx)-converting bacteriophages in MG1655, which constitute an important virulence trait in Stx-producing E. coli strains (STEC). The window of pressures capable of inducing Stx phages correlated well with the window of bacterial survival. When pressure treatments were conducted in whole milk, which is known to promote bacterial survival, Stx phage induction could be observed at up to 250 MPa in E. coli MG1655 and at up to 300 MPa in a pressure-resistant mutant of this strain. In addition, we found that the intrinsic pressure resistance of two types of Stx phages was very different, with one type surviving relatively well treatments of up to 400 MPa for 15 min at 20°C. Interestingly, and in contrast to UV irradiation or mitomycin C treatment, pressure was not able to induce Stx prophage or an SOS response in several natural Stx-producing STEC isolates.
Kondo, Eiko (Gunma University, Maebashi, Japan), and Susumu Mitsuhashi. Drug resistance of enteric bacteria. VI. Introduction of bacteriophage P1CM into Salmonella typhi and formation of P1dCM and F-CM elements. J. Bacteriol. 91:1787–1794. 1966.—Bacteriophage P1CM was introduced into Salmonella typhi by means of both phage infection and conjugation with Escherichia coli F+ lysogenic for the phage. Upon incubation with a P1CM phage lysate, S. typhi and S. abony yield CMr cells which are lysogenic for P1CM, but S. typhimurium LT2 does not. The P1CM phage is adsorbed slightly to S. typhi, but no infectious centers are formed when the phage is plated on this strain. Tests on P1CM-adsorbing capacity of the S. typhi P1CM+ strain and on plaque formation and transduction ability of the recovered phage from this strain indicated that the cell and the phage population did not have any special advantage over the original cell and phage population. Conjugation of S. typhi with E. coli F+ carrying P1CM+ gave three types of S. typhi CMr clones: those which carry the whole P1CM phage, those with the P1dCM element, and those with nontransferable CMr. The second type has the F factor and is sensitive to f phages in spite of its typical behavior, serologically and biochemically, as S. typhi. It can donate the P1dCM and F+ characters to E. coli F− or F−/P1 strains. As a consequence of conjugation with the E. coli F+ strain, the CMr character of the third type of S. typhi, the nontransferable CMr element, acquired conjugational transferability, owing to the formation of the element, F-CM. This element can be transferred to an E. coli F− strain at a very high frequency (ca. 100). Both the F and CMr determinants are jointly transduced with P1 phage and are jointly eliminated by acridine dye treatment.
The Leishmania species cause a variety of human disease syndromes. Methods for diagnosis and species differentiation are insensitive and many require invasive sampling. Although quantitative PCR (qPCR) methods are reported for leishmania detection, no systematic method to quantify parasites and determine the species in clinical specimens is established. We developed a serial qPCR strategy to identify and rapidly differentiate Leishmania species and quantify parasites in clinical or environmental specimens. SYBR green qPCR is mainly employed, with corresponding TaqMan assays for validation. The screening primers recognize kinetoplast minicircle DNA of all Leishmania species. Species identification employs further qPCR set(s) individualized for geographic regions, combining species-discriminating probes with melt curve analysis. The assay was sufficient to detect Leishmania parasites, make species determinations, and quantify Leishmania spp. in sera, cutaneous biopsy specimens, or cultured isolates from subjects from Bangladesh or Brazil with different forms of leishmaniasis. The multicopy kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) probes were the most sensitive and useful for quantification based on promastigote standard curves. To test their validity for quantification, kDNA copy numbers were compared between Leishmania species, isolates, and life stages using qPCR. Maxicircle and minicircle copy numbers differed up to 6-fold between Leishmania species, but the differences were smaller between strains of the same species. Amastigote and promastigote leishmania life stages retained similar numbers of kDNA maxi- or minicircles. Thus, serial qPCR is useful for leishmania detection and species determination and for absolute quantification when compared to a standard curve from the same Leishmania species.
Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2) from the foodborne pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 is encoded on a temperate bacteriophage. Toxin-encoding phages from C600::933W and from six clinical E. coli O157:H7 isolates were characterized for PCR polymorphisms, phage morphology, toxin production, and lytic and lysogenic infection profiles on O157 and non-O157 serotype E. coli. The phages were found to be highly variable, and even phages isolated from strains with identical pulsed-field gel electrophoresis profiles differed. Examination of cross-plaquing and lysogeny profiles further substantiated that each phage is distinct; reciprocal patterns of susceptibility and resistance were not observed and it was not possible to define immunity groups. The interaction between Shiga toxin-encoding phage and intestinal E. coli was examined. Lytic infection was assessed by examining Shiga toxin production following overnight incubation with phage. While not common, lytic infection was observed, with a more-than-1,000-fold increase in Stx2 seen in one case, demonstrating that commensal E. coli cells can amplify Shiga toxin if they are susceptible to infection by the Shiga toxin-encoding phages. Antibiotic-resistant derivatives of the Stx2-encoding phages were used to examine lysogeny. Different phages were found to lysogenize different strains of intestinal E. coli. Lysogeny was found to occur more commonly than lytic infection. The presence of a diverse population of Shiga toxin-encoding phages may increase the pathogenic fitness of E. coli O157:H7.
The production of Shiga toxin (Stx) (verocytotoxin) is a major virulence factor of Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains (Shiga toxin-producing E. coli [STEC] O157). Two types of Shiga toxins, designated Stx1 and Stx2, are produced in STEC O157. Variants of the Stx2 type (Stx2, Stx2c) are associated with high virulences of these strains for humans. A bacteriophage designated 2851 from a human STEC O157 encoding the Stx2c variant was described previously. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the phage 2851 genome revealed 75 predicted coding sequences and indicated a mosaic structure typical for lambdoid phages. Analyses of free phages and K-12 phage 2851 lysogens revealed that upon excision from the bacterial chromosome, the loss of a phage-encoded IS629 element leads to fusion of phage antA and antB genes, with the generation of a recombined antAB gene encoding a strong antirepressor. In wild-type E. coli O157 as well as in K-12 strains, phage 2851 was found to be integrated in the sbcB locus. Additionally, phage 2851 carries an open reading frame which encodes an OspB-like type III effector similar to that found in Shigella spp. Investigation of 39 stx2c E. coli O157 strains revealed that all except 1 were positive for most phage 2851-specific genes and possessed a prophage with the same border sequences integrated into the sbcB locus. Phage 2851-specific sequences were absent from most stx2c-negative E. coli O157 strains, and we suggest that phage 2851-like phages contributed significantly to the dissemination of the Stx2c variant toxin within this group of E. coli.
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.
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.