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1.  Cleavage of Phage DNA by the Streptococcus thermophilus CRISPR3-Cas System 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40913.
Streptococcus thermophilus, similar to other Bacteria and Archaea, has developed defense mechanisms to protect cells against invasion by foreign nucleic acids, such as virus infections and plasmid transformations. One defense system recently described in these organisms is the CRISPR-Cas system (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats loci coupled to CRISPR-associated genes). Two S. thermophilus CRISPR-Cas systems, CRISPR1-Cas and CRISPR3-Cas, have been shown to actively block phage infection. The CRISPR1-Cas system interferes by cleaving foreign dsDNA entering the cell in a length-specific and orientation-dependant manner. Here, we show that the S. thermophilus CRISPR3-Cas system acts by cleaving phage dsDNA genomes at the same specific position inside the targeted protospacer as observed with the CRISPR1-Cas system. Only one cleavage site was observed in all tested strains. Moreover, we observed that the CRISPR1-Cas and CRISPR3-Cas systems are compatible and, when both systems are present within the same cell, provide increased resistance against phage infection by both cleaving the invading dsDNA. We also determined that overall phage resistance efficiency is correlated to the total number of newly acquired spacers in both CRISPR loci.
PMCID: PMC3401199  PMID: 22911717
2.  Genome Organization and Characterization of the Virulent Lactococcal Phage 1358 and Its Similarities to Listeria Phages▿  
Virulent phage 1358 is the reference member of a rare group of phages infecting Lactococcus lactis. Electron microscopy revealed a typical icosahedral capsid connected to one of the smallest noncontractile tails found in a lactococcal phage of the Siphoviridae family. Microbiological characterization identified a burst size of 72 virions released per infected host cell and a latent period of 90 min. The host range of phage 1358 was limited to 3 out of the 60 lactococcal strains tested. Moreover, this phage was insensitive to four Abi systems (AbiK, AbiQ, AbiT, and AbiV). The genome of phage 1358 consisted of a linear, double-stranded, 36,892-bp DNA molecule containing 43 open reading frames (ORFs). At least 14 ORFs coded for structural proteins, as identified by SDS-PAGE coupled to liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analyses. The genomic organization was similar to those of other siphophages. All genes were on the same coding strand and in the same orientation. This lactococcal phage was unique, however, in its 51.4% GC content, much higher than those of other phages infecting this low-GC Gram-positive host. A bias for GC-rich codons was also observed. Comparative analyses showed that several phage 1358 structural proteins shared similarity with two Listeria monocytogenes phages, P35 and P40. The possible origin and evolution of lactococcal phage 1358 is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2832367  PMID: 20061452

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