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1.  Genome Characteristics of a Novel Phage from Bacillus thuringiensis Showing High Similarity with Phage from Bacillus cereus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37557.
Bacillus thuringiensis is an important entomopathogenic bacterium belongs to the Bacillus cereus group, which also includes B. anthracis and B. cereus. Several genomes of phages originating from this group had been sequenced, but no genome of Siphoviridae phage from B. thuringiensis has been reported. We recently sequenced and analyzed the genome of a novel phage, BtCS33, from a B. thuringiensis strain, subsp. kurstaki CS33, and compared the gneome of this phage to other phages of the B. cereus group. BtCS33 was the first Siphoviridae phage among the sequenced B. thuringiensis phages. It produced small, turbid plaques on bacterial plates and had a narrow host range. BtCS33 possessed a linear, double-stranded DNA genome of 41,992 bp with 57 putative open reading frames (ORFs). It had a typical genome structure consisting of three modules: the “late” region, the “lysogeny-lysis” region and the “early” region. BtCS33 exhibited high similarity with several phages, B. cereus phage Wβ and some variants of Wβ, in genome organization and the amino acid sequences of structural proteins. There were two ORFs, ORF22 and ORF35, in the genome of BtCS33 that were also found in the genomes of B. cereus phage Wβ and may be involved in regulating sporulation of the host cell. Based on these observations and analysis of phylogenetic trees, we deduced that B. thuringiensis phage BtCS33 and B. cereus phage Wβ may have a common distant ancestor.
PMCID: PMC3359378  PMID: 22649540
2.  Regions of the Streptococcus sobrinus spaA gene encoding major determinants of antigen I. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1990;172(7):3988-4001.
Surface protein antigen A (SpaA), also called antigen B, antigen I/II, or antigen P1, is an abundant cell envelope protein that is the major antigenic determinant of Streptococcus sobrinus and other members of the Streptococcus mutans group of cariogenic bacteria. This laboratory has previously reported the cloning and expression in Escherichia coli of a BamHI restriction fragment of S. sobrinus DNA containing most of the spaA gene (pYA726) and encoding antigen I. Regions of spaA encoding immunodeterminants of antigen I were analyzed by either deletion mapping or expressing selected restriction fragments from the trc promoter. SpaA proteins produced by mutants harboring nested deletions, constructed by BAL 31 exonuclease treatment at a unique SstI site located towards the 3' end of the gene, were examined by Western immunoblot with rabbit serum against SpaA from S. sobrinus. Only SpaA polypeptides larger than 56 kilodaltons reacted with anti-SpaA serum. Various restriction fragments of the region of spaA encoding the antigenic determinants were cloned into an expression vector. The immunoreactive properties of the polypeptides encoded by those fragments indicated that expression of the immunodominant determinant required topographically assembled residues specified by noncontiguous regions located within 0.48-kilobase PvuII-to-SstI and 1.2-kilobase SstI-to-HindIII fragments which were adjacent on the spaA map.
PMCID: PMC213384  PMID: 1694526
3.  Cross-reactivity between the immunodominant determinant of the antigen I component of Streptococcus sobrinus SpaA protein and surface antigens from other members of the Streptococcus mutans group. 
Infection and Immunity  1990;58(7):2276-2282.
Most members of the Streptococcus mutans group of microorganisms specify a major cell surface-associated protein, SpaA, that is defined by its antigenic properties. The region of the spaA gene from Streptococcus sobrinus 6715 encoding the immunodominant determinant of the major antigenic component (antigen I) of the SpaA protein has recently been characterized. This study examined whether recognition of the immunodominant determinant is independent of the immunized animal host and whether antibodies elicited by the immunodominant determinant cross-react with cell surface proteins from S. mutans of various serotypes. Mouse and rabbit antisera to the undenatured SpaA protein reacted similarly both with the immunodominant determinant and with other antigenic structures of the protein in Western immunoblots with SpaA polypeptides that were specified by spaA gene fragments expressed in recombinant Escherichia coli. This suggests that the antibody responses of inbred and outbred animals were similar. Furthermore, antibodies raised against both the S. sobrinus SpaA immunodominant determinant expressed by recombinant E. coli and the purified protein from S. sobrinus displayed similar strain specificities and protein band profiles towards cells surface proteins from S. mutans of various serotypes in immunodot and Western blot analyses, respectively. This suggests that for S. sobrinus serotype g, the immune response against the SpaA protein is governed by the immunodominant determinant of antigen I. In addition, it indicates that the SpaA protein domain containing the immunodominant determinant overlaps the domain conferring cross-reactivity to cell surface proteins of S. mutans of various serotypes.
PMCID: PMC258808  PMID: 1694822
4.  Molecular and immunochemical characterization of recombinant Escherichia coli containing the spaA gene region of Streptococcus sobrinus. 
Infection and Immunity  1989;57(7):1906-1915.
We identified and characterized a recombinant Escherichia coli containing the entire gene for surface protein antigen A (spaA) of Streptococcus sobrinus 6715. The recombinant E. coli was isolated from a cosmid gene bank of size-fractionated S. sobrinus DNA fragments, and recombinants expressing the SpaA protein were detected immunologically. Subcloning experiments showed that the DNA sequences encoding the SpaA protein could be isolated on two contiguous EcoRI fragments, 3.7 and 3.3 kilobases (kb) in size, both contained on a 16.2-kb BglII fragment. Southern blot hybridization experiments using the EcoRI fragments to probe genomic DNAs from various serotypes of the mutans group of streptococci revealed DNA sequence homology not only to S. sobrinus 6715 (serotype g) chromosomal DNA but also to S. sobrinus serotype d DNA. Weak hybridization signals to Streptococcus mutans serotypes c, e, and f and to Streptococcus cricetus serotype a were observed with the 3.3-kb EcoRI fragment. These results suggest that the coding sequence for the spaA gene is probably conserved in S. sobrinus strains. Plasmid-encoded polypeptides made in E. coli minicells revealed that transcription of the spaA gene was initiated on the 3.7-kb EcoRI fragment and that its product size was about 210 kilodaltons. The cloned SpaA protein was purified from the periplasmic protein of E. coli, and monospecific antiserum against the cloned product was prepared in rabbits. The data obtained from various physiochemical and immunological procedures allowed us to conclude that the coding sequence for the entire spaA gene of S. sobrinus 6715 had been successfully cloned in E. coli and that faithful expression of the cloned product could be obtained.
PMCID: PMC313819  PMID: 2543627
5.  Characterization of the Genome of the Polyvalent Lytic Bacteriophage GTE2, Which Has Potential for Biocontrol of Gordonia-, Rhodococcus-, and Nocardia-Stabilized Foams in Activated Sludge Plants ▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(12):3923-3929.
Hydrophobic Actinobacteria are commonly associated with the stabilization of foams in activated sludge systems. One possible attractive approach to control these foam-stabilizing organisms is the use of specific bacteriophages. We describe the genome characterization of a novel polyvalent DNA phage, GTE2, isolated from activated sludge. This phage is lytic for Gordonia terrae, Rhodococcus globerulus, Rhodococcus erythropolis, Rhodococcus erythropolis, Nocardia otitidiscaviarum, and Nocardia brasiliensis. Phage GTE2 belongs to the family Siphoviridae, possessing a characteristic icosahedral head encapsulating a double-stranded DNA linear genome (45,530 bp) having 10-bp 3′-protruding cohesive ends. The genome sequence is 98% unique at the DNA level and contains 57 putative genes. The genome can be divided into two components, where the first is modular and encodes phage structural proteins and lysis genes. The second is not modular, and the genes harbored there are involved in DNA replication, repair, and metabolism. Some have no known function. GTE2 shows promising results in controlling stable foam production by its host bacteria under laboratory conditions, suggesting that it may prove useful in the field as a biocontrol agent.
PMCID: PMC3131622  PMID: 21498753
6.  Complete nucleotide sequence of the gene for a surface protein antigen of Streptococcus sobrinus. 
Infection and Immunity  1991;59(9):3309-3312.
The complete nucleotide sequence of the gene for a cell surface protein antigen (SpaA) of Streptococcus sobrinus MT3791 (serotype g) was determined. The spaA gene consisted of 4,698 bp and coded for a protein of 170,202 Da. A putative signal peptide was found in the amino-terminal end of the protein. A potential promoter sequence and a putative Shine-Dalgarno sequence preceded the open reading frame. Two internal repeating amino acid sequences were present in SpaA. One repeating region, located in the amino-terminal region, was rich in alanine, and the other, located in the central region, was rich in proline. The molecular structure of SpaA was very similar to that of the surface protein antigen of Streptococcus mutans.
PMCID: PMC258171  PMID: 1840575
7.  Genomic Analysis of Clostridium perfringens Bacteriophage φ3626, Which Integrates into guaA and Possibly Affects Sporulation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(16):4359-4368.
Two temperate viruses, φ3626 and φ8533, have been isolated from lysogenic Clostridium perfringens strains. Phage φ3626 was chosen for detailed analysis and was inspected by electron microscopy, protein profiling, and host range determination. For the first time, the nucleotide sequence of a bacteriophage infecting Clostridium species was determined. The virus belongs to the Siphoviridae family of the tailed phages, the order Caudovirales. Its genome consists of a linear double-stranded DNA molecule of 33,507 nucleotides, with invariable 3′-protruding cohesive ends of nine residues. Fifty open reading frames were identified, which are organized in three major life cycle-specific gene clusters. The genes required for lytic development show an opposite orientation and arrangement compared to the lysogeny control region. A function could be assigned to 19 gene products, based upon bioinformatic analyses, N-terminal amino acid sequencing, or experimental evidence. These include DNA-packaging proteins, structural components, a dual lysis system, a putative lysogeny switch, and proteins that are involved in replication, recombination, and modification of phage DNA. The presence of genes encoding a putative sigma factor related to sporulation-dependent sigma factors and a putative sporulation-dependent transcription regulator suggests a possible interaction of φ3626 with onset of sporulation in C. perfringens. We found that the φ3626 attachment site attP lies in a noncoding region immediately downstream of int. Integration of the viral genome occurs into the bacterial attachment site attB, which is located within the 3′ end of a guaA homologue. This essential housekeeping gene is functionally independent of the integration status, due to reconstitution of its terminal codons by phage sequence.
PMCID: PMC135250  PMID: 12142405
8.  Immunological Characterization of a Protective Antigen of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae: Identification of the Region Responsible for Protective Immunity 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(4):1646-1651.
The gene encoding a protective protein antigen of the gram-positive bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, an important veterinary pathogen responsible for erysipelas in swine and a variety of diseases in animals, was cloned and sequenced. The gene encodes a polypeptide of 597 amino acids plus a putative signal sequence of 29 amino acids, resulting in a mature protein with a molecular mass of 69,017 Da. Sequence analysis of the gene product revealed a C-terminal region composed of nine tandem repeats of 20 amino acids and a total sequence that is nearly identical to that of the 64-kDa cell surface protein (SpaA) of the bacterium. Because of this similarity, the protein was designated SpaA.1. In this study, we examined whether the SpaA.1 protein could induce protective antibodies and whether we could identify the region involved in protective immunity. Both the mature SpaA.1 protein and its C-terminal repeat region, but not the N-terminal segment, were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified as a histidine-tagged fusion recombinant protein. Rabbit antiserum raised against the mature SpaA.1 protein passively protected mice from lethal challenge with a virulent homologous strain, Fujisawa-SmR, suggesting that protection is mediated by humoral antibodies. To determine which domain of the SpaA.1 protein is responsible for the observed protection, mice were actively immunized with either the mature SpaA.1 protein or the C-terminal repeat region and then challenged with Fujisawa-SmR. The result showed that mice immunized with the mature SpaA.1 protein, but not the C-terminal repeat region, were protected, suggesting that the protection-eliciting epitope(s) is located within the N-terminal two-thirds of the SpaA.1 molecule. This was confirmed by passive immunization experiments in which the protective activity of rabbit antiserum, raised against mature SpaA.1 protein, was not abolished by absorption with the purified recombinant C-terminal repeat region. In addition, antibodies specific for the C-terminal repeat region were unable to protect mice from lethal challenge. These results show that the N-terminal two-thirds of the SpaA.1 molecule may constitute a good vaccine candidate against erysipelas.
PMCID: PMC96508  PMID: 10084998
9.  Cluster J Mycobacteriophages: Intron Splicing in Capsid and Tail Genes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69273.
Bacteriophages isolated on Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2155 represent many distinct genomes sharing little or no DNA sequence similarity. The genomes are architecturally mosaic and are replete with genes of unknown function. A new group of genomes sharing substantial nucleotide sequences constitute Cluster J. The six mycobacteriophages forming Cluster J are morphologically members of the Siphoviridae, but have unusually long genomes ranging from 106.3 to 117 kbp. Reconstruction of the capsid by cryo-electron microscopy of mycobacteriophage BAKA reveals an icosahedral structure with a triangulation number of 13. All six phages are temperate and homoimmune, and prophage establishment involves integration into a tRNA-Leu gene not previously identified as a mycobacterial attB site for phage integration. The Cluster J genomes provide two examples of intron splicing within the virion structural genes, one in a major capsid subunit gene, and one in a tail gene. These genomes also contain numerous free-standing HNH homing endonuclease, and comparative analysis reveals how these could contribute to genome mosaicism. The unusual Cluster J genomes provide new insights into phage genome architecture, gene function, capsid structure, gene mobility, intron splicing, and evolution.
PMCID: PMC3706429  PMID: 23874930
10.  Diversity of Prophages in Dominant Staphylococcus aureus Clonal Lineages▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(11):3462-3468.
Temperate bacteriophages play an important role in the pathogenicity of Staphylococcus aureus, for instance, by mediating the horizontal gene transfer of virulence factors. Here we established a classification scheme for staphylococcal prophages of the major Siphoviridae family based on integrase gene polymorphism. Seventy-one published genome sequences of staphylococcal phages were clustered into distinct integrase groups which were related to the chromosomal integration site and to the encoded virulence gene content. Analysis of three marker modules (lysogeny, tail, and lysis) for phage functional units revealed that these phages exhibit different degrees of genome mosaicism. The prevalence of prophages in a representative S. aureus strain collection consisting of 386 isolates of diverse origin was determined. By linking the phage content to dominant S. aureus clonal complexes we could show that the distribution of bacteriophages varied remarkably between lineages, indicating restriction-based barriers. A comparison of colonizing and invasive S. aureus strain populations revealed that hlb-converting phages were significantly more frequent in colonizing strains.
PMCID: PMC2681900  PMID: 19329640
11.  Immune responses to Streptococcus sobrinus surface protein antigen A expressed by recombinant Salmonella typhimurium. 
Infection and Immunity  1993;61(5):1859-1866.
In this study, we used a vaccine strain of Salmonella typhimurium to express antigenic determinants of the SpaA antigen of Streptococcus sobrinus, which is involved in the caries-forming process. We cloned either a single repeat (pYA2901) or three tandem repeats (pYA2905) of the 0.48-kb fragment of the spaA gene, which codes for an important component of the SpaA protein, plus a 1.2-kb minor antigenic determinant and measured the resulting immune responses to SpaA in orally immunized BALB/c mice. The single or triple repeat of the spaA gene fragment was inserted into the Asd+ vector pYA292 and was transformed into the S. typhimurium delta cya delta crp vaccine strain chi 4072 containing delta asd in the chromosome. Female BALB/c mice were then orally immunized with two doses of the S. typhimurium containing either of the two SpaA constructs, and the immune responses to the expressed SpaA protein were assessed. Significant serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) anti-SpaA titers were detected in mice immunized with chi 4072(pYA2905) but not chi 4072(pYA2901). Salivary anti-SpaA IgA titers were minimal and were only detected in mice immunized with S. typhimurium expressing the SpaA encoded by pYA2905. Intestinal anti-SpaA IgA titers, however, were detected in both groups of mice, particularly in mice immunized with chi 4072(pYA2905). An oral booster 26 weeks after the initial series of immunizations resulted in increased serum IgG titers in both chi 4072(pYA2901)- and chi 4072(pYA2905)-immunized animals, particularly in the chi 4072(pYA2905)-immunized animals. No anamnestic IgA response was detected in the saliva following the booster immunization.
PMCID: PMC280776  PMID: 8478075
12.  Assembly of Distinct Pilus Structures on the Surface of Corynebacterium diphtheriae 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(4):1526-1533.
Different surface organelles contribute to specific interactions of a pathogen with host tissues or infectious partners. Multiple pilus gene clusters potentially encoding different surface structures have been identified in several gram-positive bacterial genomes sequenced to date, including actinomycetales, clostridia, corynebacteria, and streptococci. Corynebacterium diphtheriae has been shown to assemble a pilus structure, with sortase SrtA essential for the assembly of a major subunit SpaA and two minor proteins, SpaB and SpaC. We report here the characterization of a second pilus consisting of SpaD, SpaE, and SpaF, of which SpaD and SpaE form the pilus shaft and SpaF may be located at the pilus tip. The structure of the SpaDEF pilus contains no SpaABC pilins as detected by immunoelectron microscopy. Neither deletion of spaA nor sortase srtA abolishes SpaDEF pilus formation. The assembly of the SpaDEF pilus requires specific sortases located within the SpaDEF pilus gene cluster. Although either sortase SrtB or SrtC is sufficient to polymerize SpaDF, the incorporation of SpaE into the SpaD pili requires sortase SrtB. In addition, an alanine in place of the lysine of the SpaD pilin motif abrogates pilus polymerization. Thus, SpaD, SpaE, and SpaF constitute a different pilus structure that is independently assembled and morphologically distinct from the SpaABC pili and possibly other pili of C. diphtheriae.
PMCID: PMC1367254  PMID: 16452436
13.  Characterization of a bacteriophage that carries the genes for production of Shiga-like toxin 1 in Escherichia coli. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1987;169(9):4308-4312.
The Shiga-like toxin 1-converting bacteriophage H-19B was recently shown to carry the structural genes for the toxin and was shown to have DNA sequence homology with phage lambda. We present evidence that the linear genome of bacteriophage H-19B has cohesive termini which become covalently associated during prophage integration. Integration occurs through a site on a 4-kilobase-pair EcoRI fragment located near the center of the bacteriophage chromosome. The relationship between bacteriophages H-19B and lambda was examined by Southern hybridization. Homologous regions were mapped on the respective chromosomes which corresponded to the regions of the J gene, the int-xis area, and the O and P genes of phage lambda. The H-19B tox genes were mapped to the right of the O and P gene homology, which was far away from the phage attachment site. We concluded that H-19B is a lambdoid bacteriophage. Unlike other toxin-converting bacteriophages, the toxin genes were not located adjacent to the phage attachment site. It appeared that the Shiga-like toxin 1 genes were not picked up by a simple imprecise prophage excision. H-19B could, however, have acquired chromosomally located toxin genes by a series of events involving deletion and duplication followed by aberrant excision.
PMCID: PMC213745  PMID: 3040688
14.  Mucosal Adhesion Properties of the Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG SpaCBA and SpaFED Pilin Subunits▿  
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a well-established Gram-positive probiotic strain, whose health-benefiting properties are dependent in part on prolonged residence in the gastrointestinal tract and are likely dictated by adherence to the intestinal mucosa. Previously, we identified two pilus gene clusters (spaCBA and spaFED) in the genome of this probiotic bacterium, each of which contained the predicted genes for three pilin subunits and a single sortase. We also confirmed the presence of SpaCBA pili on the cell surface and attributed an intestinal mucus-binding capacity to one of the pilin subunits (SpaC). Here, we report cloning of the remaining pilin genes (spaA, spaB, spaD, spaE, and spaF) in Escherichia coli, production and purification of the recombinant proteins, and assessment of the adherence of these proteins to human intestinal mucus. Our findings indicate that the SpaB and SpaF pilin subunits also exhibit substantial binding to mucus, which can be inhibited competitively in a dose-related manner. Moreover, the binding between the SpaB pilin subunit and the mucosal substrate appears to operate through electrostatic contacts and is not related to a recognized mucus-binding domain. We conclude from these results that it is conceivable that two pilin subunits (SpaB and SpaC) in the SpaCBA pilus fiber play a role in binding to intestinal mucus, but for the uncharacterized and putative SpaFED pilus fiber only a single pilin subunit (SpaF) is potentially responsible for adhesion to mucus.
PMCID: PMC2849237  PMID: 20118368
15.  Small but Sufficient: the Rhodococcus Phage RRH1 Has the Smallest Known Siphoviridae Genome at 14.2 Kilobases 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(1):358-363.
Bacteriophages are considered to be the most abundant biological entities on the planet. The Siphoviridae are the most commonly encountered tailed phages and contain double-stranded DNA with an average genome size of ∼50 kb. This paper describes the isolation from four different activated sludge plants of the phage RRH1, which is polyvalent, lysing five Rhodococcus species. It has a capsid diameter of only ∼43 nm. Whole-genome sequencing of RRH1 revealed a novel circularly permuted DNA sequence (14,270 bp) carrying 20 putative open reading frames. The genome has a modular arrangement, as reported for those of most Siphoviridae phages, but appears to encode only structural proteins and carry a single lysis gene. All genes are transcribed in the same direction. RRH1 has the smallest genome yet of any described functional Siphoviridae phage. We demonstrate that lytic phage can be recovered from transforming naked DNA into its host bacterium, thus making it a potentially useful model for studying gene function in phages.
PMCID: PMC3255915  PMID: 22013058
16.  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
17.  Genome Sequence and Characteristics of Lrm1, a Prophage from Industrial Lactobacillus rhamnosus Strain M1▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(15):4601-4609.
Prophage Lrm1 was induced with mitomycin C from an industrial Lactobacillus rhamnosus starter culture, M1. Electron microscopy of the lysate revealed relatively few intact bacteriophage particles among empty heads and disassociated tails. The defective Siphoviridae phage had an isometric head of approximately 55 nm and noncontractile tail of about 275 nm with a small baseplate. In repeated attempts, the prophage could not be cured from L. rhamnosus M1, nor could a sensitive host be identified. Sequencing of the phage Lrm1 DNA revealed a genome of 39,989 bp and a G+C content of 45.5%. A similar genomic organization and mosaic pattern of identities align Lrm1 among the closely related Lactobacillus casei temperate phages A2, ΦAT3, and LcaI and with L. rhamnosus virulent phage Lu-Nu. Of the 54 open reading frames (ORFs) identified, all but 8 shared homology with other phages of this group. Five unknown ORFs were identified that had no homologies in the databases nor predicted functions. Notably, Lrm1 encodes a putative endonuclease and a putative DNA methylase with homology to a methylase in Lactococcus lactis phage Tuc2009. Possibly, the DNA methylase, endonuclease, or other Lrm1 genes provide a function crucial to L. rhamnosus M1 survival, resulting in the stability of the defective prophage in its lysogenic state. The presence of a defective prophage in an industrial strain could provide superinfection immunity to the host but could also contribute DNA in recombination events to produce new phages potentially infective for the host strain in a large-scale fermentation environment.
PMCID: PMC2519341  PMID: 18539811
18.  Characteristics of a broad lytic spectrum endolysin from phage BtCS33 of Bacillus thuringiensis 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:297.
Endolysins produced by bacteriophages lyse bacteria, and are thus considered a novel type of antimicrobial agent. Several endolysins from Bacillus phages or prophages have previously been characterized and used to target Bacillus strains that cause disease in animals and humans. B. thuringiensis phage BtCS33 is a Siphoviridae family phage and its genome has been sequenced and analyzed. In the BtCS33 genome, orf18 was found to encode an endolysin protein (PlyBt33).
Bioinformatic analyses showed that endolysin PlyBt33 was composed of two functional domains, the N-terminal catalytic domain and the C-terminal cell wall binding domain. In this study, the entire endolysin PlyBt33, and both the N- and C-termini,were expressed in Escherichia coli and then purified. The lytic activities of PlyBt33 and its N-terminus were tested on bacteria. Both regions exhibited lytic activity, although PlyBt33 showed a higher lytic activity than the N-terminus. PlyBt33 exhibited activity against all Bacillus strains tested from five different species, but was not active against Gram-negative bacteria. Optimal conditions for PlyBt33 reactivity were pH 9.0 and 50°C. PlyBt33 showed high thermostability, with 40% of initial activity remaining following 1 h of treatment at 60°C. The C-terminus of PlyBt33 bound to B. thuringiensis strain HD-73 and Bacillus subtilis strain 168. This cell wall binding domain might be novel, as its amino acid sequence showed little similarity to previously reported endolysins.
PlyBt33 showed potential as a novel antimicrobial agent at a relatively high temperature and had a broad lytic spectrum within the Bacillus genus. The C-terminus of PlyBt33 might be a novel kind of cell wall binding domain.
PMCID: PMC3534610  PMID: 23249212
Bacillus thuringinesis; Bacteriophage; Endolysin; N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase
19.  Sequence and structural analysis of surface protein antigen I/II (SpaA) of Streptococcus sobrinus. 
Infection and Immunity  1991;59(8):2677-2685.
Streptococcal antigen I/II or the surface protein antigen A (SpaA) of Streptococcus sobrinus is an adhesin which mediates binding of the organism to tooth surfaces. The complete sequence of the gene which encodes SpaA has been determined. The gene consists of 4,584 bp and encodes a protein of 1,528 amino acid residues. The deduced amino acid sequence shows extensive homology with those of the cell surface adhesins from Streptococcus mutans serotypes c and f and from Streptococcus sanguis. Structural analysis of the N-terminal region (residues 50 to 550), which is rich in alanine and includes four tandem repeats of an 82-residue sequence, suggests that it adopts an alpha-helical coiled-coil conformation. Cell surface hydrophobicity may be associated with this region. The C-terminal region is more conserved and includes two tandem repeats of a 39-residue proline-rich sequence. A further proline-rich sequence in this region is predicted to span the cell wall. Although a hydrophobic sequence is present in the C-terminal region, it appears to be too short to span the cell membrane. Anchoring of SpaA in the cell membrane may therefore require some form of posttranslational modification or association with another membrane protein.
PMCID: PMC258073  PMID: 1855987
20.  Pilus Gene Pool Variation and the Virulence of Corynebacterium diphtheriae Clinical Isolates during Infection of a Nematode 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(16):3774-3783.
Toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae strains cause diphtheria in humans. The toxigenic C. diphtheriae isolate NCTC13129 produces three distinct heterotrimeric pili that contain SpaA, SpaD, and SpaH, making up the shaft structure. The SpaA pili are known to mediate bacterial adherence to pharyngeal epithelial cells. However, to date little is known about the expression of different pili in various clinical isolates and their importance in bacterial pathogenesis. Here, we characterized a large collection of C. diphtheriae clinical isolates for their pilin gene pool by PCR and for the expression of the respective pilins by immunoblotting with antibodies against Spa pilins. Consistent with the role of a virulence factor, the SpaA-type pili were found to be prevalent among the isolates, and most significantly, corynebacterial adherence to pharyngeal epithelial cells was strictly correlated with isolates that were positive for the SpaA pili. By comparison, the isolates were heterogeneous for the presence of SpaD- and SpaH-type pili. Importantly, using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model host for infection, we show here that strain NCTC13129 rapidly killed the nematodes, the phenotype similar to isolates that were positive for toxin and all pilus types. In contrast, isogenic mutants of NCTC13129 lacking SpaA-type pili or devoid of toxin and SpaA pili exhibited delayed killing of nematodes with similar kinetics. Consistently, nontoxigenic or toxigenic isolates that lack one, two, or all three pilus types were also attenuated in virulence. This work signifies the important role of pili in corynebacterial pathogenesis and provides a simple host model to identify additional virulence factors.
PMCID: PMC3754579  PMID: 23772071
21.  Genomic analysis of bacteriophage ε34 of Salmonella enterica serovar Anatum (15+) 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:227.
The presence of prophages has been an important variable in genetic exchange and divergence in most bacteria. This study reports the determination of the genomic sequence of Salmonella phage ε34, a temperate bacteriophage that was important in the early study of prophages that modify their hosts' cell surface and is of a type (P22-like) that is common in Salmonella genomes.
The sequence shows that ε34 is a mosaically related member of the P22 branch of the lambdoid phages. Its sequence is compared with the known P22-like phages and several related but previously unanalyzed prophage sequences in reported bacterial genome sequences.
These comparisons indicate that there has been little if any genetic exchange within the procapsid assembly gene cluster with P22-like E. coli/Shigella phages that are have orthologous but divergent genes in this region. Presumably this observation reflects the fact that virion assembly proteins interact intimately and divergent proteins can no longer interact. On the other hand, non-assembly genes in the "ant moron" appear to be in a state of rapid flux, and regulatory genes outside the assembly gene cluster have clearly enjoyed numerous and recent horizontal exchanges with phages outside the P22-like group. The present analysis also shows that ε34 harbors a gtrABC gene cluster which should encode the enzymatic machinery to chemically modify the host O antigen polysaccharide, thus explaining its ability to alter its host's serotype. A comprehensive comparative analysis of the known phage gtrABC gene clusters shows that they are highly mobile, having been exchanged even between phage types, and that most "bacterial" gtrABC genes lie in prophages that vary from being largely intact to highly degraded. Clearly, temperate phages are very major contributors to the O-antigen serotype of their Salmonella hosts.
PMCID: PMC2629481  PMID: 19091116
22.  Genetic and Antigenic Diversity of the Surface Protective Antigen Proteins of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae▿  
The surface protective antigen (Spa) protein of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae has been shown to be highly immunogenic and is a potential candidate for a new vaccine against erysipelas. In this study, we cloned and sequenced spa genes from all E. rhusiopathiae serovar reference strains as well as from a serovar 18 strain which was not classified as any species in the genus Erysipelothrix. Sequence analysis revealed that the Spa proteins could be classified into three molecular species, including SpaA, which was previously found in serovars 1a and 2, and the newly designated SpaB and SpaC proteins. The SpaA protein is produced by E. rhusiopathiae serovars 1a, 1b, 2, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, and N, the SpaB protein is produced by E. rhusiopathiae serovars 4, 6, 11, 19, and 21, and the SpaC protein is produced only by serovar 18. The amino acid sequence similarity was high among members of each Spa type (96 to 99%) but low between different Spa types (∼60%). The greatest diversity in Spa proteins was found in the N-terminal half of the molecule (50 to 57% similarity), which was shown to be involved in immunoprotection. Coinciding with this, immunoblot analysis revealed that rabbit antisera specific to each Spa reacted strongly with the homologous Spa protein but weakly with heterologous Spa proteins. A mouse cross-protection study showed that the three recombinant Spa (rSpa) proteins elicited complete protection against challenge with homologous strains but that the level of protection against challenge with heterologous strains varied depending on the rSpa protein used for immunization. Our study is the first to demonstrate sequence and antigenic diversity in Spa proteins and to indicate that rSpaC may be the most promising antigen for use as a vaccine component because of its broad cross-protectiveness.
PMCID: PMC1951066  PMID: 17475766
23.  Truncated Surface Protective Antigen (SpaA) of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae Serotype 1a Elicits Protection against Challenge with Serotypes 1a and 2b in Pigs 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(9):4376-4382.
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae is a causal agent of swine erysipelas, which is of economic importance in the swine industry by virtue of causing acute septicemia, chronic arthritis, and endocarditis. However, little is known about the genetic properties of its protective antigens. Recently, a surface protective antigen (SpaA) gene was identified from serotype 2 in a mouse model. We cloned spaA from virulent strain Fujisawa (serotype 1a) and determined that the N-terminal 342 amino acids without C-terminal repeats of 20 amino acids have the ability to elicit protection in mice. Fusions of 342 amino acids of Fujisawa SpaA and histidine hexamer (HisSpa1.0) protected pigs against challenge with both serotype 1 and serotype 2, the most important serotypes in the swine industry. Pigs immunized with HisSpa1.0 reacted well with both HisSpa1.0 and intact SpaA by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunoblotting. Serum collected at the time of challenge from a pig immunized with HisSpa1.0 markedly enhanced the in vitro phagocytic and killing activity of pig neutrophils against the bacteria. DNA sequences of protective regions of spaA genes from five strains of serotypes 1 and 2 were almost identical. The full DNA sequences also seemed to be conserved among strains of all 12 serotype reference strains harboring the spaA gene by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of PCR products. These results indicates that SpaA is a common protective antigen of serotypes 1 and 2 of E. rhusiopathiae in swine and will be a useful tool for development of new types of vaccines and diagnostic tools for effective control of the disease.
PMCID: PMC96755  PMID: 10456877
24.  The Generalized Transducing Salmonella Bacteriophage ES18: Complete Genome Sequence and DNA Packaging Strategy 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(3):1091-1104.
The generalized transducing double-stranded DNA bacteriophage ES18 has an icosahedral head and a long noncontractile tail, and it infects both rough and smooth Salmonella enterica strains. We report here the complete 46,900-bp genome nucleotide sequence and provide an analysis of the sequence. Its 79 genes and their organization clearly show that ES18 is a member of the lambda-like (lambdoid) phage group; however, it contains a novel set of genes that program assembly of the virion head. Most of its integration-excision, immunity, Nin region, and lysis genes are nearly identical to those of the short-tailed Salmonella phage P22, while other early genes are nearly identical to Escherichia coli phages λ and HK97, S. enterica phage ST64T, or a Shigella flexneri prophage. Some of the ES18 late genes are novel, while others are most closely related to phages HK97, lambda, or N15. Thus, the ES18 genome is mosaically related to other lambdoid phages, as is typical for all group members. Analysis of virion DNA showed that it is circularly permuted and about 10% terminally redundant and that initiation of DNA packaging series occurs across an approximately 1-kbp region rather than at a precise location on the genome. This supports a model in which ES18 terminase can move substantial distances along the DNA between recognition and cleavage of DNA destined to be packaged. Bioinformatic analysis of large terminase subunits shows that the different functional classes of phage-encoded terminases can usually be predicted from their amino acid sequence.
PMCID: PMC545730  PMID: 15659686
25.  Comparison of DNA Sequencing of the Protein A Gene Polymorphic Region with Other Molecular Typing Techniques for Typing Two Epidemiologically Diverse Collections of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(2):574-580.
The aim of this study was to compare the recently developed typing approach for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) based on the DNA sequencing of the protein A gene polymorphic region (spaA typing) with a combination of three well-established molecular typing techniques: ClaI-mecA vicinity polymorphisms, ClaI-Tn554 insertion patterns, and SmaI pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles. In order to evaluate the applicability of this typing technique in different types of studies, two groups of MRSA clinical isolates were analyzed: a collection of 185 MRSA isolates circulating in Hungary recovered from 17 hospitals in seven cities during a 3-year period (1994 through 1996), and a selection of 53 MRSA strains isolated in a single hospital in Hungary between 1997 and 1998. The 238 MRSA clinical strains from Hungary were first classified in clonal types (defined as ClaI-mecA::ClaI-Tn554::SmaI-PFGE patterns), and 65 of the 238 strains, representing major MRSA clones and some sporadic clones, were further analyzed by spaA typing. Our results showed that the lineages most recently introduced in the hospital setting showed little variability in spaA types, whereas the MRSA clones circulating for a longer period of time and spread among several hospitals showed a higher degree of variability. The implementation of the spaA typing method was straightforward, and the results obtained were reproducible, unambiguous, and easily interpreted. This method seems to be adequate for outbreak investigations but should be complemented with other techniques in long-term surveillance or in studies comparing distant clonal lineages.
PMCID: PMC87778  PMID: 11158109

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