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1.  Characterization of Paenibacillus larvae bacteriophages and their genomic relationships to firmicute bacteriophages 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):745.
Paenibacillus larvae is a Firmicute bacterium that causes American Foulbrood, a lethal disease in honeybees and is a major source of global agricultural losses. Although P. larvae phages were isolated prior to 2013, no full genome sequences of P. larvae bacteriophages were published or analyzed. This report includes an in-depth analysis of the structure, genomes, and relatedness of P. larvae myoviruses Abouo, Davis, Emery, Jimmer1, Jimmer2, and siphovirus phiIBB_Pl23 to each other and to other known phages.
P. larvae phages Abouo, Davies, Emery, Jimmer1, and Jimmer2 are myoviruses with ~50 kbp genomes. The six P. larvae phages form three distinct groups by dotplot analysis. An annotated linear genome map of these six phages displays important identifiable genes and demonstrates the relationship between phages. Sixty phage assembly or structural protein genes and 133 regulatory or other non-structural protein genes were identifiable among the six P. larvae phages. Jimmer1, Jimmer2, and Davies formed stable lysogens resistant to superinfection by genetically similar phages. The correlation between tape measure protein gene length and phage tail length allowed identification of co-isolated phages Emery and Abouo in electron micrographs. A Phamerator database was assembled with the P. larvae phage genomes and 107 genomes of Firmicute-infecting phages, including 71 Bacillus phages. Phamerator identified conserved domains in 1,501 of 6,181 phamilies (only 24.3%) encoded by genes in the database and revealed that P. larvae phage genomes shared at least one phamily with 72 of the 107 other phages. The phamily relationship of large terminase proteins was used to indicate putative DNA packaging strategies. Analyses from CoreGenes, Phamerator, and electron micrograph measurements indicated Jimmer1, Jimmer2, Abouo and Davies were related to phages phiC2, EJ-1, KC5a, and AQ113, which are small-genome myoviruses that infect Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, and Clostridium, respectively.
This paper represents the first comparison of phage genomes in the Paenibacillus genus and the first organization of P. larvae phages based on sequence and structure. This analysis provides an important contribution to the field of bacteriophage genomics by serving as a foundation on which to build an understanding of the natural predators of P. larvae.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-745) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4168068  PMID: 25174730
Paenibacillus larvae; Bacteriophage; Jimmer1; Jimmer2; Emery; Abouo; Davies; phiIBB_Pl23; Phamerator; Phage genomics
2.  First genome sequences of Achromobacter phages reveal new members of the N4 family 
Virology Journal  2014;11:14.
Multi-resistant Achromobacter xylosoxidans has been recognized as an emerging pathogen causing nosocomially acquired infections during the last years. Phages as natural opponents could be an alternative to fight such infections. Bacteriophages against this opportunistic pathogen were isolated in a recent study. This study shows a molecular analysis of two podoviruses and reveals first insights into the genomic structure of Achromobacter phages so far.
Growth curve experiments and adsorption kinetics were performed for both phages. Adsorption and propagation in cells were visualized by electron microscopy. Both phage genomes were sequenced with the PacBio RS II system based on single molecule, real-time (SMRT) technology and annotated with several bioinformatic tools. To further elucidate the evolutionary relationships between the phage genomes, a phylogenomic analysis was conducted using the genome Blast Distance Phylogeny approach (GBDP).
In this study, we present the first detailed analysis of genome sequences of two Achromobacter phages so far. Phages JWAlpha and JWDelta were isolated from two different waste water treatment plants in Germany. Both phages belong to the Podoviridae and contain linear, double-stranded DNA with a length of 72329 bp and 73659 bp, respectively. 92 and 89 putative open reading frames were identified for JWAlpha and JWDelta, respectively, by bioinformatic analysis with several tools. The genomes have nearly the same organization and could be divided into different clusters for transcription, replication, host interaction, head and tail structure and lysis. Detailed annotation via protein comparisons with BLASTP revealed strong similarities to N4-like phages.
Analysis of the genomes of Achromobacter phages JWAlpha and JWDelta and comparisons of different gene clusters with other phages revealed that they might be strongly related to other N4-like phages, especially of the Escherichia group. Although all these phages show a highly conserved genomic structure and partially strong similarities at the amino acid level, some differences could be identified. Those differences, e.g. the existence of specific genes for replication or host interaction in some N4-like phages, seem to be interesting targets for further examination of function and specific mechanisms, which might enlighten the mechanism of phage establishment in the host cell after infection.
PMCID: PMC3915230  PMID: 24468270
Achromobacter xylosoxidans; N4-like phage; Genome; Lar-like protein; N4likevirus; Podoviridae; GBDP
3.  Comparative Study of Vaginal Lactobacillus Phages Isolated from Women in the United States and Turkey: Prevalence, Morphology, Host Range, and DNA Homology 
Lactobacilli play an important role in maintaining vaginal health. However, during bacterial vaginosis lactobacilli decrease for unknown reasons. Our preliminary study showed that phages could infect vaginal lactobacilli. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze the distribution, virulence, and types of vaginal Lactobacillus phages isolated from women of two countries: the United States and Turkey. A total of 209 vaginal lactobacilli were isolated from reproductive-aged women in the United States (n = 107) and Turkey (n = 102). By analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequence and by comparison of protein profiles, most lactobacilli were identified as L. crispatus, L. gasseri, and L. jensenii. After mitomycin C induction, 28% of American lactobacilli and 36% of Turkish lactobacilli released phages. A total of 67 phages were isolated and further characterized by their host range, electron microscopy, and DNA homology. All 67 phages were infective against lactobacilli from both collections. The host ranges of most phages were broad, including multiple Lactobacillus species. Even though the phages were all temperate, they were able to cause lytic infection in various strains. The electron micrographs of these phages showed a hexagon-shaped head and a long tail with or without a contractile tail sheath. Based on their morphology, these phages belonged to Bradley's phage groups A and B, and could be further classified into four morphotypes. All four types were found among American phages, but only three were found among Turkish isolates. DNA hybridization with labeled probes of the four types of phages revealed that additional genetic types existed within each morphotype among these phages. The phage genomic sizes ranged between 34 and 55 kb. Many of the lysogenic Lactobacillus strains released phages spontaneously at a high frequency of 10−3 to 10−4 PFU/cell. In conclusion, lysogeny in vaginal lactobacilli is widely spread. Some lysogenic lactobacilli spontaneously release phages with a broad host range, which can be lytic against other vaginal lactobacilli regardless of their geographic origin.
PMCID: PMC96007  PMID: 11139192
4.  Visualization of Bacteriophage T3 Capsids with DNA Incompletely Packaged In Vivo 
Journal of molecular biology  2008;384(5):1384-1399.
The tightly packaged dsDNA genome in the mature particles of many tailed bacteriophages has been shown to form multiple concentric rings when reconstructed from cryo-electron micrographs. However, recent single-particle DNA packaging force measurements have suggested that incompletely packaged DNA (ipDNA) is less ordered when it is shorter than ∼25% of the full genome length. The study presented here initially achieves both the isolation and the ipDNA length-based fractionation of ipDNA-containing T3 phage capsids (ipDNA-capsids) produced by DNA packaging in vivo; some ipDNA has quantized lengths, as judged by high-resolution gel electrophoresis of expelled DNA. This is the first isolation of such particles among the tailed dsDNA bacteriophages. The ipDNA-capsids are a minor component (containing ∼10-4 of packaged DNA in all particles) and are initially detected by non-denaturing gel electrophoresis after partial purification by buoyant density centrifugation. The primary contaminants are aggregates of phage particles and empty capsids. This study then investigates ipDNA conformations by the first cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) of ipDNA-capsids produced in vivo. The 3-D structures of DNA-free capsids, ipDNA-capsids with various lengths of ipDNA, and mature bacteriophage are reconstructed, which reveals the typical T=7l icosahedral shell of many tailed dsDNA bacteriophages. Though the icosahedral shell structures of these capsids are indistinguishable at the current resolution for the protein shell (∼15 Å), the conformations of the DNA inside the shell are drastically different. T3 ipDNA-capsids with 10.6 kb or shorter dsDNA (<28% of total genome) have an ipDNA conformation indistinguishable from random. However, T3 ipDNA-capsids with 22 kb DNA (58% of total genome) forms a single DNA ring next to the inner surface of the capsid shell. In contrast, dsDNA fully packaged (38.2 kb) in mature T3 phage particles forms multiple concentric rings like those seen in other tailed dsDNA bacteriophages. The distance between the icosahedral shell and the outermost DNA ring decreases in the mature, fully packaged phage structure. These results suggest that, in the early stage of DNA packaging, the dsDNA genome is randomly distributed inside the capsid, not preferentially packaged against the inner surface of the capsid shell, and that the multiple concentric dsDNA rings seen later are the results of pressure-driven close-packing.
PMCID: PMC2628292  PMID: 18952096
Agarose gel electrophoresis; Buoyant density centrifugation; Cryo-EM; 3-D reconstruction; Mass spectrometry; DNA packaging
5.  Genomic and proteomic characterization of SuMu, a Mu-like bacteriophage infecting Haemophilus parasuis 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:331.
Haemophilus parasuis, the causative agent of Glässer’s disease, is prevalent in swine herds and clinical signs associated with this disease are meningitis, polyserositis, polyarthritis, and bacterial pneumonia. Six to eight week old pigs in segregated early weaning herds are particularly susceptible to the disease. Insufficient colostral antibody at weaning or the mixing of pigs with heterologous virulent H. parasuis strains from other farm sources in the nursery or grower-finisher stage are considered to be factors for the outbreak of Glässer’s disease. Previously, a Mu-like bacteriophage portal gene was detected in a virulent swine isolate of H. parasuis by nested polymerase chain reaction. Mu-like bacteriophages are related phyologenetically to enterobacteriophage Mu and are thought to carry virulence genes or to induce host expression of virulence genes. This study characterizes the Mu-like bacteriophage, named SuMu, isolated from a virulent H. parasuis isolate.
Characterization was done by genomic comparison to enterobacteriophage Mu and proteomic identification of various homologs by mass spectrometry. This is the first report of isolation and characterization of this bacteriophage from the Myoviridae family, a double-stranded DNA bacteriophage with a contractile tail, from a virulent field isolate of H. parasuis. The genome size of bacteriophage SuMu was 37,151 bp. DNA sequencing revealed fifty five open reading frames, including twenty five homologs to Mu-like bacteriophage proteins: Nlp, phage transposase-C-terminal, COG2842, Gam-like protein, gp16, Mor, peptidoglycan recognition protein, gp29, gp30, gpG, gp32, gp34, gp36, gp37, gpL, phage tail tube protein, DNA circulation protein, gpP, gp45, gp46, gp47, COG3778, tail fiber protein gp37-C terminal, tail fiber assembly protein, and Com. The last open reading frame was homologous to IS1414. The G + C content of bacteriophage SuMu was 41.87% while its H. parasuis host genome’s G + C content was 39.93%. Twenty protein homologs to bacteriophage proteins, including 15 structural proteins, one lysogeny-related and one lysis-related protein, and three DNA replication proteins were identified by mass spectrometry. One of the tail proteins, gp36, may be a virulence-related protein.
Bacteriophage SuMu was characterized by genomic and proteomic methods and compared to enterobacteriophage Mu.
PMCID: PMC3447690  PMID: 22823751
Haemophilus parasuis; Bacteriophage; Virulence
6.  First-Time Isolation and Characterization of a Bacteriophage Encoding the Shiga Toxin 2c Variant, Which Is Globally Spread in Strains of Escherichia coli O157  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(12):7030-7039.
A bacteriophage encoding the Shiga toxin 2c variant (Stx2c) was isolated from the human Escherichia coli O157 strain CB2851 and shown to form lysogens on the E. coli K-12 laboratory strains C600 and MG1655. Production of Stx2c was found in the wild-type E. coli O157 strain and the K-12 lysogens and was inducible by growing bacteria in the presence of ciprofloxacin. Phage 2851 is the first reported viable bacteriophage which carries an stx2c gene. Electron micrographs of phage 2851 showed particles with elongated hexagonal heads and long flexible tails resembling phage lambda. Sequence analysis of an 8.4-kb region flanking the stx2c gene and other genetic elements revealed a mosaic gene structure, as found in other Stx phages. Phage 2851 showed lysis of E. coli K-12 strains lysogenic for Stx phages encoding Stx1 (H19), Stx2 (933W), Stx (7888), and Stx1c (6220) but showed superinfection immunity with phage lambda, presumably originating from the similarity of the cI repressor proteins of both phages. Apparently, phage 2851 integrates at a different chromosomal locus than Stx2 phage 933W and Stx1 phage H19 in E. coli, explaining why Stx2c is often found in combination with Stx1 or Stx2 in E. coli O157 strains. Diagnostic PCR was performed to determine gene sequences specific for phage 2851 in wild-type E. coli O157 strains producing Stx2c. The phage 2851 q and o genes were frequently detected in Stx2c-producing E. coli O157 strains, indicating that phages related to 2851 are associated with Stx2c production in strains of E. coli O157 that were isolated in different locations and time periods.
PMCID: PMC529153  PMID: 15557626
7.  Isolation and Characterization of a Virulent Bacteriophage AB1 of Acinetobacter baumannii 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:131.
Acinetobacter baumannii is an emerging nosocomial pathogen worldwide with increasing prevalence of multi-drug and pan-drug resistance. A. baumannii exists widely in natural environment, especially in health care settings, and has been shown difficult to be eradicated. Bacteriophages are often considered alternative agent for controlling bacterial infection and contamination. In this study, we described the isolation and characterization of one virulent bacteriophage AB1 capable of specifically infecting A. baumannii.
A virulent bacteriophage AB1, specific for infecting a clinical strain A. baumannii KD311, was first isolated from marine sediment sample. Restriction analysis indicated that phage AB1 was a dsDNA virus with an approximate genome size of 45.2 kb to 46.9 kb. Transmission electron microscopy showed that phage AB1 had an icosahedral head with a non-contractile tail and collar or whisker structures, and might be tentatively classified as a member of the Siphoviridae family. Proteomic pattern of phage AB1, generated by SDS-PAGE using purified phage particles, revealed five major bands and six minor bands with molecular weight ranging from 14 to 80 kilo-dalton. Also determined was the adsorption rate of phage AB1 to the host bacterium, which was significantly enhanced by addition of 10 mM CaCl2. In a single step growth test, phage AB1 was shown having a latent period of 18 minutes and a burst size of 409. Moreover, pH and thermal stability of phage AB1 were also investigated. At the optimal pH 6.0, 73.2% of phages survived after 60 min incubation at 50°C. When phage AB1 was used to infect four additional clinical isolates of A. baumannii, one clinical isolate of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa lab strains PAK and PAO1, none of the tested strains was found susceptible, indicating a relatively narrow host range for phage AB1.
Phage AB1 was capable of eliciting efficient lysis of A. baumannii, revealing its potential as a non-toxic sanitizer for controlling A. baumannii infection and contamination in both hospital and other public environments.
PMCID: PMC2874798  PMID: 20426877
8.  Bacteriophages of Leuconostoc, Oenococcus, and Weissella 
Leuconostoc (Ln.), Weissella, and Oenococcus form a group of related genera of lactic acid bacteria, which once all shared the name Leuconostoc. They are associated with plants, fermented vegetable products, raw milk, dairy products, meat, and fish. Most of industrially relevant Leuconostoc strains can be classified as either Ln. mesenteroides or Ln. pseudomesenteroides. They are important flavor producers in dairy fermentations and they initiate nearly all vegetable fermentations. Therefore, bacteriophages attacking Leuconostoc strains may negatively influence the production process. Bacteriophages attacking Leuconostoc strains were first reported in 1946. Since then, the majority of described Leuconostoc phages was isolated from either dairy products or fermented vegetable products. Both lytic and temperate phages of Leuconostoc were reported. Most of Leuconostoc phages examined using electron microscopy belong to the Siphoviridae family and differ in morphological details. Hybridization and comparative genomic studies of Leuconostoc phages suggest that they can be divided into several groups, however overall diversity of Leuconostoc phages is much lower as compared to, e.g., lactococcal phages. Several fully sequenced genomes of Leuconostoc phages have been deposited in public databases. Lytic phages of Leuconostoc can be divided into two host species-specific groups with similarly organized genomes that shared very low nucleotide similarity. Phages of dairy Leuconostoc have rather limited host-ranges. The receptor binding proteins of two lytic Ln. pseudomesenteroides phages have been identified. Molecular tools for detection of dairy Leuconostoc phages have been developed. The rather limited data on phages of Oenococcus and Weissella show that (i) lysogeny seems to be abundant in Oenococcus strains, and (ii) several phages infecting Weissella cibaria are also able to productively infect strains of other Weissella species and even strains of the genus Lactobacillus.
PMCID: PMC4009412  PMID: 24817864
bacteriophages; Leuconostoc; Oenococcus; Weissella; morphogenesis; DNA sequence analysis
9.  Complete Sequence and Evolutionary Genomic Analysis of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa Transposable Bacteriophage D3112 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(2):400-410.
Bacteriophage D3112 represents one of two distinct groups of transposable phage found in the clinically relevant, opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. To further our understanding of transposable phage in P. aeruginosa, we have sequenced the complete genome of D3112. The genome is 37,611 bp, with an overall G+C content of 65%. We have identified 53 potential open reading frames, including three genes (the c repressor gene and early genes A and B) that have been previously characterized and sequenced. The organization of the putative coding regions corresponds to published genetic and transcriptional maps and is very similar to that of enterobacteriophage Mu. In contrast, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has classified D3112 as a λ-like phage on the basis of its morphology. Similarity-based analyses identified 27 open reading frames with significant matches to proteins in the NCBI databases. Forty-eight percent of these were similar to Mu-like phage and prophage sequences, including proteins responsible for transposition, transcriptional regulation, virion morphogenesis, and capsid formation. The tail proteins were highly similar to prophage sequences in Escherichia coli and phage Phi12 from Staphylococcus aureus, while proteins at the right end were highly similar to proteins in Xylella fastidiosa. We performed phylogenetic analyses to understand the evolutionary relationships of D3112 with respect to Mu-like versus λ-like bacteriophages. Different results were obtained from similarity-based versus phylogenetic analyses in some instances. Overall, our findings reveal a highly mosaic structure and suggest that extensive horizontal exchange of genetic material played an important role in the evolution of D3112.
PMCID: PMC305741  PMID: 14702309
10.  Outermost-cell-surface changes in an encapsulated strain of Staphylococcus aureus after preservation by freeze-drying. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1988;54(10):2486-2491.
The effects of drying time during freeze-drying on the outermost cell surface of an encapsulated strain of Staphylococcus aureus S-7 (Smith, diffuse) were investigated, with special attention paid to capsule and slime production. To quantify capsule and slime production, capsule antigen production and cellular characteristics such as growth type in serum-soft agar, cell volume index, and clumping factor reaction were examined. After freeze-drying the colonial morphology of strain S-7 was altered from a diffuse to a compact type in serum-soft agar. In accordance with these changes, the titer of the clumping factor reaction increased while the cell volume index, capsule and slime production, and capsule antigen production were markedly decreased in parallel with the period of freeze-drying. The ability of the strain to adhere to collagen, fibrinogen, and soybean lectin was also compared before and after freeze-drying. Fibrinogen levels slightly increased when 10% skim milk and 2% honey were used as cryoprotective agents and showed a remarkable increase when 0.05 M phosphate buffer was used as a control. Also, the ability of strain S-7 to adhere to soybean lectin declined, whereas no changes were observed for collagen under any conditions. Strain S-7 was phage nontypable before freeze-drying but the number of typable cells increased after freeze-drying; phage-typable cells reacted to phage 52 alone after 5 h of freeze-drying, but additional cells also proved to be phage typable to phage 42E after 10 h. Electron micrographs indicated that strain S-7, an encapsulated strain, was converted to an unencapsulated state after freeze-drying.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC204292  PMID: 3202630
11.  Isolation and characterization of a T7-like lytic phage for Pseudomonas fluorescens 
BMC Biotechnology  2008;8:80.
Despite the proven relevance of Pseudomonas fluorescens as a spoilage microorganism in milk, fresh meats and refrigerated food products and the recognized potential of bacteriophages as sanitation agents, so far no phages specific for P. fluorescens isolates from dairy industry have been closely characterized in view of their lytic efficiency. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of a lytic phage capable to infect a variety of P. fluorescens strains isolated from Portuguese and United States dairy industries.
Several phages were isolated which showed a different host spectrum and efficiency of lysis. One of the phages, phage ϕIBB-PF7A, was studied in detail due to its efficient lysis of a wide spectrum of P. fluorescens strains and ribotypes. Phage ϕIBB-PF7A with a head diameter of about 63 nm and a tail size of about 13 × 8 nm belongs morphologically to the Podoviridae family and resembles a typical T7-like phage, as analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The phage growth cycle with a detected latent period of 15 min, an eclipse period of 10 min, a burst size of 153 plaque forming units per infected cell, its genome size of approximately 42 kbp, and the size and N-terminal sequence of one of the protein bands, which gave similarity to the major capsid protein 10A, are consistent with this classification.
The isolated T7-like phage, phage ϕIBB-PF7A, is fast and efficient in lysing different P. fluorescens strains and may be a good candidate to be used as a sanitation agent to control the prevalence of spoilage causing P. fluorescens strains in dairy and food related environments.
PMCID: PMC2582237  PMID: 18954452
12.  Whole genome sequence comparison of vtx2-converting phages from Enteroaggregative Haemorrhagic Escherichia coli strains 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):574.
Enteroaggregative Haemorrhagic E. coli (EAHEC) is a new pathogenic group of E. coli characterized by the presence of a vtx2-phage integrated in the genomic backbone of Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAggEC). So far, four distinct EAHEC serotypes have been described that caused, beside the large outbreak of infection occurred in Germany in 2011, a small outbreak and six sporadic cases of HUS in the time span 1992–2012. In the present work we determined the whole genome sequence of the vtx2-phage, termed Phi-191, present in the first described EAHEC O111:H2 isolated in France in 1992 and compared it with those of the vtx-phages whose sequences were available.
The whole genome sequence of the Phi-191 phage was identical to that of the vtx2-phage P13374 present in the EAHEC O104:H4 strain isolated during the German outbreak 20 years later. Moreover, it was also almost identical to those of the other vtx2-phages of EAHEC O104:H4 strains described so far. Conversely, the Phi-191 phage appeared to be different from the vtx2-phage carried by the EAHEC O111:H21 isolated in the Northern Ireland in 2012.
The comparison of the vtx2-phages sequences from EAHEC strains with those from the vtx-phages of typical Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli strains showed the presence of a 900 bp sequence uniquely associated with EAHEC phages and encoding a tail fiber.
At least two different vtx2-phages, both characterized by the presence of a peculiar tail fiber-coding gene, intervened in the emergence of EAHEC. The finding of an identical vtx2-phage in two EAggEC strains isolated after 20 years in spite of the high variability described for vtx-phages is unexpected and suggests that such vtx2-phages are kept under a strong selective pressure.
The observation that different EAHEC infections have been traced back to countries where EAggEC infections are endemic and the treatment of human sewage is often ineffective suggests that such countries may represent the cradle for the emergence of the EAHEC pathotype. In these regions, EAggEC of human origin can extensively contaminate the environment where they can meet free vtx-phages likely spread by ruminants excreta.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-574) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4122784  PMID: 25001858
Enteroaggregative haemorrhagic E. coli; vtx-phages; Whole genome sequence; Tail fibers
13.  A suggested new bacteriophage genus: “Viunalikevirus” 
Archives of Virology  2012;157(10):2035-2046.
We suggest a bacteriophage genus, “Viunalikevirus”, as a new genus within the family Myoviridae. To date, this genus includes seven sequenced members: Salmonella phages ViI, SFP10 and ΦSH19; Escherichia phages CBA120 and PhaxI; Shigella phage phiSboM-AG3; and Dickeya phage LIMEstone1. Their shared myovirus morphology, with comparable head sizes and tail dimensions, and genome organization are considered distinguishing features. They appear to have conserved regulatory sequences, a horizontally acquired tRNA set and the probable substitution of an alternate base for thymine in the DNA. A close examination of the tail spike region in the DNA revealed four distinct tail spike proteins, an arrangement which might lead to the umbrella-like structures of the tails visible on electron micrographs. These properties set the suggested genus apart from the recently ratified subfamily Tevenvirinae, although a significant evolutionary relationship can be observed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00705-012-1360-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4174289  PMID: 22707043
14.  Morphological, Host Range, and Genetic Characterization of Two Coliphages 
Two coliphages, AR1 and LG1, were characterized based on their morphological, host range, and genetic properties. Transmission electron microscopy showed that both phages belonged to the Myoviridae; phage particles of LG1 were smaller than those of AR1 and had an isometric head 68 nm in diameter and a complex contractile tail 111 nm in length. Transmission electron micrographs of AR1 showed phage particles consisting of an elongated isometric head of 103 by 74 nm and a complex contractile tail 116 nm in length. Both phages were extensively tested on many strains of Escherichia coli and other enterobacteria. The results showed that both phages could infect many serotypes of E. coli. Among the enterobacteria, Proteus mirabilis, Shigella dysenteriae, and two Salmonella strains were lysed by the phages. The genetic material of AR1 and LG1 was characterized. Phage LG1 had a genome size of 49.5 kb compared to 150 kb for AR1. Restriction endonuclease analysis showed that several restriction enzymes could degrade DNA from both phages. The morphological, genome size, and restriction endonuclease similarities between AR1 and phage T4 were striking. Southern hybridizations showed that AR1 and T4 are genetically related. The wide host ranges of phages AR1 and LG1 suggest that they may be useful as biocontrol, therapeutic, or diagnostic agents to control and detect the prevalence of E. coli in animals and food.
PMCID: PMC194992  PMID: 12957924
15.  Bacteriophage K1-5 Encodes Two Different Tail Fiber Proteins, Allowing It To Infect and Replicate on both K1 and K5 Strains of Escherichia coli 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(6):2509-2515.
A virulent double-stranded DNA bacteriophage, ΦK1-5, has been isolated and found to be capable of infecting Escherichia coli strains that possess either the K1 or the K5 polysaccharide capsule. Electron micrographs show that the virion consists of a small icosohedral head with short tail spikes, similar to members of the Podoviridae family. DNA sequence analysis of the region encoding the tail fiber protein showed two open reading frames encoding previously characterized hydrolytic phage tail fiber proteins. The first is the K5 lyase protein gene of ΦK5, which allows this phage to specifically infect K5 E. coli strains. A second open reading frame encodes a protein almost identical in amino acid sequence to the N-acetylneuraminidase (endosialidase) protein of ΦK1E, which allows this phage to specifically infect K1 strains of E. coli. We provide experimental evidence that mature phage particles contain both tail fiber proteins, and mutational analysis indicates that each protein can be independently inactivated. A comparison of the tail gene regions of ΦK5, ΦK1E, and ΦK1-5 shows that the genes are arranged in a modular or cassette configuration and suggests that this family of phages can broaden host range by horizontal gene transfer.
PMCID: PMC115872  PMID: 11222673
16.  Significance of Bacteriophages for Controlling Bacterioplankton Growth in a Mesotrophic Lake 
Bacterium-specific viruses have attracted much interest in aquatic microbial ecology because they have been shown to be about 10 times more abundant than planktonic bacteria. So far most of the studies of interactions of planktonic bacteria and viruses have been done in marine environments, and very little is known about these interactions in lakes. Therefore, we studied phage proliferation in Lake Constance, a large mesotrophic lake in Germany. We enumerated bacteria and quantified the fraction of bacteria with mature intracellular phage particles and the number of free viruses by transmission electron microscopy. Between the end of March and early August 1992, peaks of bacterial abundance were followed in 1 to 2 weeks by peaks in the fraction of bacteria containing visible phage particles (0 to 1.7%) and in the number of free viruses (1 x 10(sup7) to 4 x 10(sup7) ml(sup-1)). We estimated that 1 to 17% +/- 12% of all bacteria were phage infected, implying that phage-induced mortality was <34% +/- 24% of total mortality. A direct comparison between phage-induced mortality, the net decrease of bacterial numbers, and bacterial growth rates indicated that phage-induced mortality accounted for <11% of total bacterial mortality during the phytoplankton spring bloom and 18 to 21% following the bloom. Estimated burst sizes ranged from 21 to 121 phages. Phage production rates of 0.5 x 10(sup6) to 2.5 x 10(sup6) ml(sup-1) day(sup-1) accounted for 70 to 380% of the observed net increase rates of free phages, implying high rates of simultaneous phage decay. The cyclic dynamics between bacteria and phages and the varying size structure of the intracellular mature phage particles suggested that phage infection was important in structuring the bacterial host assemblage during the study period.
PMCID: PMC1388335  PMID: 16534914
17.  Artificial Neural Networks Trained to Detect Viral and Phage Structural Proteins 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(8):e1002657.
Phages play critical roles in the survival and pathogenicity of their hosts, via lysogenic conversion factors, and in nutrient redistribution, via cell lysis. Analyses of phage- and viral-encoded genes in environmental samples provide insights into the physiological impact of viruses on microbial communities and human health. However, phage ORFs are extremely diverse of which over 70% of them are dissimilar to any genes with annotated functions in GenBank. Better identification of viruses would also aid in better detection and diagnosis of disease, in vaccine development, and generally in better understanding the physiological potential of any environment. In contrast to enzymes, viral structural protein function can be much more challenging to detect from sequence data because of low sequence conservation, few known conserved catalytic sites or sequence domains, and relatively limited experimental data. We have designed a method of predicting phage structural protein sequences that uses Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs). First, we trained ANNs to classify viral structural proteins using amino acid frequency; these correctly classify a large fraction of test cases with a high degree of specificity and sensitivity. Subsequently, we added estimates of protein isoelectric points as a feature to ANNs that classify specialized families of proteins, namely major capsid and tail proteins. As expected, these more specialized ANNs are more accurate than the structural ANNs. To experimentally validate the ANN predictions, several ORFs with no significant similarities to known sequences that are ANN-predicted structural proteins were examined by transmission electron microscopy. Some of these self-assembled into structures strongly resembling virion structures. Thus, our ANNs are new tools for identifying phage and potential prophage structural proteins that are difficult or impossible to detect by other bioinformatic analysis. The networks will be valuable when sequence is available but in vitro propagation of the phage may not be practical or possible.
Author Summary
Bacteriophages are extremely abundant and diverse biological entities. All phage particles are comprised of nucleic acids and structural proteins, with few other packaged proteins. Despite their simplicity and abundance, more than 70% of phage sequences in the viral Reference Sequence database encode proteins with unknown function based on FASTA annotations. As a result, the use of sequence similarity is often insufficient for detecting virus structural proteins among unknown viral sequences. Viral structural protein function is challenging to detect from sequence data because structural proteins possess few known conserved catalytic motifs and sequence domains. To address these issues we investigated the use of Artificial Neural Networks as an alternative means of predicting function. Here, we trained thousands of networks using the amino acid frequency of structural protein sequences and identified the optimal architectures with the highest accuracies. Some hypothetical protein sequences detected by our networks were expressed and visualized by TEM, and produced images that strongly resemble virion structures. Our results support the utility of our neural networks in predicting the functions of unknown viral sequences.
PMCID: PMC3426561  PMID: 22927809
18.  Characterization of the temperate bacteriophage phi adh and plasmid transduction in Lactobacillus acidophilus ADH. 
Lactobacillus acidophilus ADH is lysogenic and harbors an inducible prophage, phi adh. Bacteriophage were detected in cell lysates induced by treatment with mitomycin C or UV light. Electron microscopy of lysates revealed phage particles with a hexagonal head (62 nm) and a long, noncontractile, flexible tail (398 nm) ending in at last five short fibers. Phage phi adh was classified within Bradley's B1 phage group and the Siphoviridae family. The phi adh genome is a linear double-stranded DNA molecule of 41.7 kilobase pairs with cohesive ends: a physical map of the phi adh genome was constructed. A prophage-cured derivative of strain ADH, designated NCK102, was isolated from cells that survived UV exposure. NCK102 did not exhibit mitomycin C-induced lysis, but broth cultures lysed upon addition of phage. Phage phi adh produced clear plaques on NCK102 in media containing 10 mM CaCl2 at pH values between 5.2 and 5.5. A relysogenized derivative (NCK103) of NCK102 was isolated that exhibited mitomycin C-induced lysis and superinfection immunity to phage phi adh. Hybridization experiments showed that the phi adh genome was present in the ADH and NCK103 chromosomes, but absent in NCK102. These results demonstrated classic lytic and lysogenic cycles of replication for the temperate phage phi adh induced from L. acidophilus ADH. Phage phi adh also mediates transduction of plasmid DNA. Transductants of strain ADH containing pC194, pGK12, pGB354, and pVA797 were detected at frequencies in the range of 3.6 x 10(-8) to 8.3 x 10(-10) per PFU. Rearrangements or deletions were not detected in these plasmids as a consequence of transduction. This is the first description of plasmid transduction in the genus Lactobacillus.
PMCID: PMC203057  PMID: 2508554
19.  The Terminally Redundant, Nonpermuted Genome of Listeria Bacteriophage A511: a Model for the SPO1-Like Myoviruses of Gram-Positive Bacteria▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(17):5753-5765.
Only little information on a particular class of myoviruses, the SPO1-like bacteriophages infecting low-G+C-content, gram-positive host bacteria (Firmicutes), is available. We present the genome analysis and molecular characterization of the large, virulent, broad-host-range Listeria phage A511. A511 contains a unit (informational) genome of 134,494 bp, encompassing 190 putative open reading frames (ORFs) and 16 tRNA genes, organized in a modular fashion common among the Caudovirales. Electron microscopy, enzymatic fragmentation analyses, and sequencing revealed that the A511 DNA molecule contains linear terminal repeats of a total of 3,125 bp, encompassing nine small putative ORFs. This particular genome structure explains why A511 is unable to perform general transduction. A511 features significant sequence homologies to Listeria phage P100 and other morphologically related phages infecting Firmicutes such as Staphylococcus phage K and Lactobacillus phage LP65. Equivalent but more-extensive terminal repeats also exist in phages P100 (∼6 kb) and K (∼20 kb). High-resolution electron microscopy revealed, for the first time, the presence of long tail fibers organized in a sixfold symmetry in these viruses. Mass spectrometry-based peptide fingerprinting permitted assignment of individual proteins to A511 structural components. On the basis of the data available for A511 and relatives, we propose that SPO1-like myoviruses are characterized by (i) their infection of gram-positive, low-G+C-content bacteria; (ii) a wide host range within the host bacterial genus and a strictly virulent lifestyle; (iii) similar morphology, sequence relatedness, and collinearity of the phage genome organization; and (iv) large double-stranded DNA genomes featuring nonpermuted terminal repeats of various sizes.
PMCID: PMC2519532  PMID: 18567664
20.  Isolation and Characterization of Novel Giant Stenotrophomonas maltophilia Phage φSMA5 
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is one of the most prevalent opportunistic bacteria causing nosocomial infections. It has become problematic because most of the isolates are resistant to multiple antibiotics, and therefore, development of phage therapy has attracted strong attention. In this study, eight S. maltophilia phages were isolated from clinical samples including patient specimens, catheter-related devices, and wastewater. These phages can be divided into four distinct groups based on host range and digestibility of the phage DNAs with different restriction endonucleases. One of them, designated φSMA5, was further characterized. Electron microscopy showed it resembled Myoviridae, with an isometric head (90 nm in diameter), a tail (90 nm long), a baseplate (25 nm wide), and short tail fibers. The φSMA5 double-stranded DNA, refractory to digestion by most restriction enzymes, was tested and estimated to be 250 kb by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. This genome size is second to that of the largest phage, φKZ of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, 25 virion proteins were visualized. N-terminal sequencing of four of them suggested that each of them might have had its N terminus cleaved off. Among the 87 S. maltophilia strains collected in this study, only 61 were susceptible to φSMA5, indicating that more phages are needed toward a phage therapy strategy. Since literature search yielded no information about S. maltophilia phages, φSMA5 appears to be the first reported.
PMCID: PMC1065149  PMID: 15746341
21.  Interaction of Pseudomonas Bacteriophage 2 with the Slime Polysaccharide and Lipopolysaccharide of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Strain BI 
Journal of Virology  1971;8(3):311-317.
Purified slime polysaccharide B and lipopolysaccharide of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain BI were shown to possess receptor-like properties in inactivating Pseudomonas phage 2, whereas lipoprotein and glycopeptide fractions were devoid of activity. On a weight basis, slime polysaccharide B was more effective than lipopolysaccharide in inactivating phage. The specificity of the reaction with slime polysaccharide B was indicated by the fact that slime polysaccharide A of P. aeruginosa strain EI failed to inactivate phage 2. Electron micrographs showed phage 2 in typical, tail-first position of attachment on intact cells of strain BI, slime polysaccharide B, and lipopolysaccharide. Tail fibers were discernible during phage attachment.
PMCID: PMC356244  PMID: 4107541
22.  Isolation, characterization and comparative genomics of bacteriophage SfIV: a novel serotype converting phage from Shigella flexneri 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:677.
Shigella flexneri is the major cause of shigellosis in the developing countries. The O-antigen component of the lipopolysaccharide is one of the key virulence determinants required for the pathogenesis of S. flexneri. The glucosyltransferase and/or acetyltransferase genes responsible for the modification of the O-antigen are encoded by temperate serotype converting bacteriophage present in the S. flexneri genome. Several serotype converting phages have previously been isolated and characterized, however, attempts to isolate a serotype converting phage which encodes the modification genes of serotypes 4a strain have not been successful.
In this study, a novel temperate serotype converting bacteriophage SfIV was isolated. Lysogenisation of phage SfIV converted serotype Y strain to serotype 4a. Electron microscopy indicated that SfIV belongs to Myoviridae family. The 39,758 bp genome of phage SfIV encompasses 54 open reading frames (orfs). Protein level comparison of SfIV with other serotype converting phages of S. flexneri revealed that SfIV is similar to phage SfII and SfV. The comparative analysis also revealed that SfIV phage contained five proteins which were not found in any other phages of S. flexneri. These proteins were: a tail fiber assembly protein, two hypothetical proteins with no clear function, and two other unknown proteins which were encoded by orfs present on a moron, that presumably got introduced in SfIV genome from another species via a transposon. These unique proteins of SfIV may play a role in the pathogenesis of the host.
This study reports the isolation and complete genome sequence analysis of bacteriophage SfIV. The SfIV phage has a host range significantly different from the other phages of Shigella. Comparative genome analysis identified several proteins unique to SfIV, which may potentially be involved in the survival and pathogenesis of its host. These findings will further our understanding on the evolution of these phages, and will also facilitate studies on development of new phage vectors and therapeutic agents to control infections caused by S. flexneri.
PMCID: PMC3851460  PMID: 24090466
Shigella flexneri; Bacteriophage; O-antigen modification; Serotype conversion
23.  Identification of the Lower Baseplate Protein as the Antireceptor of the Temperate Lactococcal Bacteriophages TP901-1 and Tuc2009 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(1):55-63.
The first step in the infection process of tailed phages is recognition and binding to the host receptor. This interaction is mediated by the phage antireceptor located in the distal tail structure. The temperate Lactococcus lactis phage TP901-1 belongs to the P335 species of the Siphoviridae family, which also includes the related phage Tuc2009. The distal tail structure of TP901-1 is well characterized and contains a double-disk baseplate and a central tail fiber. The structural tail proteins of TP901-1 and Tuc2009 are highly similar, but the phages have different host ranges and must therefore encode different antireceptors. In order to identify the antireceptors of TP901-1 and Tuc2009, a chimeric phage was generated in which the gene encoding the TP901-1 lower baseplate protein (bppLTP901-1) was exchanged with the analogous gene (orf532009) of phage Tuc2009. The chimeric phage (TP901-1C) infected the Tuc2009 host strain efficiently and thus displayed an altered host range compared to TP901-1. Genomic analysis and sequencing verified that TP901-1C is a TP901-1 derivative containing the orf532009 gene in exchange for bppLTP901-1; however, a new sequence in the late promoter region was also discovered. Protein analysis confirmed that TP901-1C contains ORF532009 and not the lower baseplate protein BppLTP901-1, and it was concluded that BppLTP901-1 and ORF532009 constitute antireceptor proteins of TP901-1 and Tuc2009, respectively. Electron micrographs revealed altered baseplate morphology of TP901-1C compared to that of the parental phage.
PMCID: PMC1317572  PMID: 16352821
24.  Bacteriophages of Erwinia amylovora 
Fifty bacteriophage isolates of Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight, were collected from sites in and around the Niagara region of southern Ontario and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario. Forty-two phages survived the isolation, purification, and storage processes. The majority of the phages in the collection were isolated from the soil surrounding trees exhibiting fire blight symptoms. Only five phages were isolated from infected aerial tissue in pear and apple orchards. To avoid any single-host selection bias, six bacterial host strains were used in the initial isolation and enrichment processes. Molecular characterization of the phages with a combination of PCR and restriction endonuclease digestions showed that six distinct phage types, described as groups 1 to 6, were recovered. Ten phage isolates were related to the previously characterized E. amylovora PEa1, with some divergence of molecular markers between phages isolated from different sites. A study of the host ranges of the phages revealed that certain types were unable to efficiently lyse some E. amylovora strains and that some isolates were able to lyse the epiphytic bacterium Pantoea agglomerans. Representatives from the six molecular groups were studied by electron microscopy to determine their morphology. The phages exhibited distinct morphologies when examined by an electron microscope. Group 1 and 2 phages were tailed and contractile, and phages belonging to groups 3 to 6 had short tails or openings with thin appendages. Based on morphotypes, the bacteriophages of E. amylovora were placed in the order Caudovirales, in the families Myoviridae and Podoviridae.
PMCID: PMC154828  PMID: 12676693
25.  Anna S. Tikhonenko 
Bacteriophage  2013;3(1):e23646.
Anna Sergeyevna Tikhonenko (1925–2010) is to be remembered for the excellency of her electron microscopical work, particularly with bacteriophages. She published 113 articles and one book, Ultrastructure of Bacterial Viruses (Izdadelstvo Nauka, Moscow 1968; Plenum Press, New York, 1972). It included 134 micrographs and a complete overview of the 316 phages then examined by electron microscopy. Most micrographs were of exceptional quality. This book, a rarity in those days of strict separation of Soviet and Western research, was the first bacteriophage atlas in the literature and presented a morphological classification of phages into five categories of family level, similar to a scheme presented in 1965 by D.E. Bradley (J Royal Microsc Soc 84:257–316). Her book remains one of the fundamentals of phage research.
PMCID: PMC3694054  PMID: 23819103
TEM; biography; classification; history; immuno-EM

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