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1.  Involvement of the Major Capsid Protein and Two Early-Expressed Phage Genes in the Activity of the Lactococcal Abortive Infection Mechanism AbiT 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(19):6890-6899.
The dairy industry uses the mesophilic, Gram-positive, lactic acid bacterium (LAB) Lactococcus lactis to produce an array of fermented milk products. Milk fermentation processes are susceptible to contamination by virulent phages, but a plethora of phage control strategies are available. One of the most efficient is to use LAB strains carrying phage resistance systems such as abortive infection (Abi) mechanisms. Yet, the mode of action of most Abi systems remains poorly documented. Here, we shed further light on the antiviral activity of the lactococcal AbiT system. Twenty-eight AbiT-resistant phage mutants derived from the wild-type AbiT-sensitive lactococcal phages p2, bIL170, and P008 were isolated and characterized. Comparative genomic analyses identified three different genes that were mutated in these virulent AbiT-insensitive phage derivatives: e14 (bIL170 [e14bIL170]), orf41 (P008 [orf41P008]), and orf6 (p2 [orf6p2] and P008 [orf6P008]). The genes e14bIL170 and orf41P008 are part of the early-expressed genomic region, but bioinformatic analyses did not identify their putative function. orf6 is found in the phage morphogenesis module. Antibodies were raised against purified recombinant ORF6, and immunoelectron microscopy revealed that it is the major capsid protein (MCP). Coexpression in L. lactis of ORF6p2 and ORF5p2, a protease, led to the formation of procapsids. To our knowledge, AbiT is the first Abi system involving distinct phage genes.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01755-12
PMCID: PMC3457483  PMID: 22820334
2.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040913
PMCID: PMC3401199  PMID: 22911717
3.  Multiplex Fast Real-Time PCR for Quantitative Detection and Identification of cos- and pac-Type Streptococcus thermophilus Bacteriophages▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(15):4779-4781.
The fermentation of milk by Streptococcus thermophilus is a widespread industrial process that is susceptible to bacteriophage attack. In this work, a preventive fast real-time PCR method for the detection, quantification, and identification of types of S. thermophilus phages in 30 min is described.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00295-08
PMCID: PMC2519345  PMID: 18539804

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