Thermus thermophilus bacteriophage P23-77 is the type member of a new virus family of icosahedral, tailless, inner-membrane-containing double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses infecting thermophilic bacteria and halophilic archaea. The viruses have a unique capsid architecture consisting of two major capsid proteins assembled in various building blocks. We analyzed the function of the minor capsid protein VP11, which is the third known capsid component in bacteriophage P23-77. Our findings show that VP11 is a dynamically elongated dimer with a predominantly α-helical secondary structure and high thermal stability. The high proportion of basic amino acids in the protein enables electrostatic interaction with negatively charged molecules, including nucleic acid and large unilamellar lipid vesicles (LUVs). The plausible biological function of VP11 is elucidated by demonstrating the interactions of VP11 with Thermus-derived LUVs and with the major capsid proteins by means of the dynamic-light-scattering technique. In particular, the major capsid protein VP17 was able to link VP11-complexed LUVs into larger particles, whereas the other P23-77 major capsid protein, VP16, was unable to link VP11-comlexed LUVs. Our results rule out a previously suggested penton function for VP11. Instead, the electrostatic membrane association of VP11 triggers the binding of the major capsid protein VP17, thus facilitating a controlled incorporation of the two different major protein species into the assembling capsid.
IMPORTANCE The study of thermophilic viruses with inner membranes provides valuable insights into the mechanisms used for stabilization and assembly of protein-lipid systems at high temperatures. Our results reveal a novel way by which an internal membrane and outer capsid shell are linked in a virus that uses two different major protein species for capsid assembly. We show that a positive protein charge is important in order to form electrostatic interactions with the lipid surface, thereby facilitating the incorporation of other capsid proteins on the membrane surface. This implies an alternative function for basic proteins present in the virions of other lipid-containing thermophilic viruses, whose proposed role in genome packaging is based on their capability to bind DNA. The unique minor capsid protein of bacteriophage P23-77 resembles in its characteristics the scaffolding proteins of tailed phages, though it constitutes a substantial part of the mature virion.
The major capsid proteins VP16 and VP17 of bacteriophage P23-77 have been crystallized using both recombinant and purified virus and preliminary diffraction analyses have been performed.
Members of the diverse double-β-barrel lineage of viruses are identified by the conserved structure of their major coat protein. New members of this lineage have been discovered based on structural analysis and we are interested in identifying relatives that utilize unusual versions of the double-β-barrel fold. One candidate for such studies is P23-77, an icosahedral dsDNA bacteriophage that infects the extremophile Thermus thermophilus. P23-77 has two major coat proteins, namely VP16 and VP17, of a size consistent with a single-β-barrel core fold. These previously unstudied proteins have now been successfully expressed as recombinant proteins, purified and crystallized using hanging-drop and sitting-drop vapour-diffusion methods. Crystals of coat proteins VP16 and VP17 have been obtained as well as of a putative complex. In addition, virus-derived material has been crystallized. Diffraction data have been collected to beyond 3 Å resolution for five crystal types and structure determinations are in progress.
bacteriophages; capsid proteins
Flavobacterium columnare, the causative agent of columnaris disease in fish, causes millions of dollars of losses in the US channel catfish industry alone, not to mention aquaculture industry worldwide. Novel methods are needed for the control and treatment of bacterial diseases in aquaculture to replace traditionally used chemotherapies. A potential solution could be the use of phages, i.e., bacterial viruses, host-specific and self-enriching particles that can be can easily distributed via water flow. We examined the efficacy of phages to combat columnaris disease. A previously isolated phage, FCL-2, infecting F. columnare, was characterized by sequencing. The 47 142 bp genome of the phage had G + C content of 30.2%, and the closest similarities regarding the structural proteins were found in Cellulophaga phage phiSM. Under controlled experimental conditions, two host fish species, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and zebrafish (Danio rerio), were used to study the success of phage therapy to prevent F. columnare infections. The survival of both fish species was significantly higher in the presence of the phage. Hundred percent of the zebrafish and 50% of the rainbow trout survived in the phage treatment (survival without phage 0 and 8.3%, respectively). Most importantly, the rainbow trout population was rescued from infection by a single addition of the phage into the water in a flow-through fish tank system. Thus, F. columnare could be used as a model system to test the benefits and risks of phage therapy on a larger scale.
aquaculture; disease; fish; Flavobacterium columnare; phage therapy
It has proved difficult to classify viruses unless they are closely related since their rapid evolution hinders detection of remote evolutionary relationships in their genetic sequences. However, structure varies more slowly than sequence, allowing deeper evolutionary relationships to be detected. Bacteriophage P23-77 is an example of a newly identified viral lineage, with members inhabiting extreme environments. We have solved multiple crystal structures of the major capsid proteins VP16 and VP17 of bacteriophage P23-77. They fit the 14 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of the entire virus exquisitely well, allowing us to propose a model for both the capsid architecture and viral assembly, quite different from previously published models. The structures of the capsid proteins and their mode of association to form the viral capsid suggest that the P23-77-like and adeno-PRD1 lineages of viruses share an extremely ancient common ancestor.
•High-resolution structures of the two major capsid proteins of bacteriophage P23-77•P23-77 capsid proteins exhibit a conserved single β-barrel core fold•P23-77 is an ancient relative of the double β-barrel lineage of viruses•Capsid model illustrates that P23-77 uses a novel method of organization
Rissanen et al. propose a model for the architecture and assembly of bacteriophage P23-77 quite different from those previously published. The capsid proteins and their mode of association to form the virus particle suggest that P23-77 share a common evolutionary origin with the PRD1/Adenovirus lineage.
Parasites provide a selective pressure during the evolution of their hosts, and mediate a range of effects on ecological communities. Due to their short generation time, host-parasite interactions may also drive the virulence of opportunistic bacteria. This is especially relevant in systems where high densities of hosts and parasites on different trophic levels (e.g. vertebrate hosts, their bacterial pathogens, and virus parasitizing bacteria) co-exist. In farmed salmonid fingerlings, Flavobacterium columnare is an emerging pathogen, and phage that infect F. columnare have been isolated. However, the impact of these phage on their host bacterium is not well understood. To study this, four strains of F. columnare were exposed to three isolates of lytic phage and the development of phage resistance and changes in colony morphology were monitored. Using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model system, the ancestral rhizoid morphotypes were associated with a 25–100% mortality rate, whereas phage-resistant rough morphotypes that lost their virulence and gliding motility (which are key characteristics of the ancestral types), did not affect zebrafish survival. Both morphotypes maintained their colony morphologies over ten serial passages in liquid culture, except for the low-virulence strain, Os06, which changed morphology with each passage. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the effects of phage-host interactions in a commercially important fish pathogen where phage resistance directly correlates with a decline in bacterial virulence. These results suggest that phage can cause phenotypic changes in F. columnare outside the fish host, and antagonistic interactions between bacterial pathogens and their parasitic phage can favor low bacterial virulence under natural conditions. Furthermore, these results suggest that phage-based therapies can provide a disease management strategy for columnaris disease in aquaculture.
Antibiotic-resistance genes are often carried by conjugative plasmids, which spread within and between bacterial species. It has long been recognized that some viruses of bacteria (bacteriophage; phage) have evolved to infect and kill plasmid-harbouring cells. This raises a question: can phages cause the loss of plasmid-associated antibiotic resistance by selecting for plasmid-free bacteria, or can bacteria or plasmids evolve resistance to phages in other ways? Here, we show that multiple antibiotic-resistance genes containing plasmids are stably maintained in both Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica in the absence of phages, while plasmid-dependent phage PRD1 causes a dramatic reduction in the frequency of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The loss of antibiotic resistance in cells initially harbouring RP4 plasmid was shown to result from evolution of phage resistance where bacterial cells expelled their plasmid (and hence the suitable receptor for phages). Phages also selected for a low frequency of plasmid-containing, phage-resistant bacteria, presumably as a result of modification of the plasmid-encoded receptor. However, these double-resistant mutants had a growth cost compared with phage-resistant but antibiotic-susceptible mutants and were unable to conjugate. These results suggest that bacteriophages could play a significant role in restricting the spread of plasmid-encoded antibiotic resistance.
antibiotic resistance; conjugative plasmids; bacteriophages
Studies on viral capsid architectures and coat protein folds have revealed the evolutionary lineages of viruses branching to all three domains of life. A widespread group of icosahedral tailless viruses, the PRD1-adenovirus lineage, was the first to be established. A double β-barrel fold for a single major capsid protein is characteristic of these viruses. Similar viruses carrying genes coding for two major capsid proteins with a more complex structure, such as Thermus phage P23-77 and haloarchaeal virus SH1, have been isolated. Here, we studied the host range, life cycle, biochemical composition, and genomic sequence of a new isolate, Haloarcula hispanica icosahedral virus 2 (HHIV-2), which resembles SH1 despite being isolated from a different location. Comparative analysis of these viruses revealed that their overall architectures are very similar except that the genes for the receptor recognition vertex complexes are unrelated even though these viruses infect the same hosts.
The Bacillus thuringiensis temperate phage GIL01 does not integrate into the host chromosome but exists stably as an independent linear replicon within the cell. Similar to that of the lambdoid prophages, the lytic cycle of GIL01 is induced as part of the cellular SOS response to DNA damage. However, no CI-like maintenance repressor has been detected in the phage genome, suggesting that GIL01 uses a novel mechanism to maintain lysogeny. To gain insights into the GIL01 regulatory circuit, we isolated and characterized a set of 17 clear plaque (cp) mutants that are unable to lysogenize. Two phage-encoded proteins, gp1 and gp7, are required for stable lysogen formation. Analysis of cp mutants also identified a 14-bp palindromic dinBox1 sequence within the P1-P2 promoter region that resembles the known LexA-binding site of Gram-positive bacteria. Mutations at conserved positions in dinBox1 result in a cp phenotype. Genomic analysis identified a total of three dinBox sites within GIL01 promoter regions. To investigate the possibility that the host LexA regulates GIL01, phage induction was measured in a host carrying a noncleavable lexA (Ind−) mutation. GIL01 formed stable lysogens in this host, but lytic growth could not be induced by treatment with mitomycin C. Also, mitomycin C induced β-galactosidase expression from GIL01-lacZ promoter fusions, and induction was similarly blocked in the lexA (Ind−) mutant host. These data support a model in which host LexA binds to dinBox sequences in GIL01, repressing phage gene expression during lysogeny and providing the switch necessary to enter lytic development.
Flavobacteria and their phages were isolated from Finnish freshwaters and fish farms. Emphasis was placed on finding phages infecting the fish pathogen Flavobacterium columnare for use as phage therapy agents. The host ranges of the flavobacterial phages varied, phages infecting F. columnare being more host specific than the other phages.
The coincidental evolution hypothesis predicts that traits connected to bacterial pathogenicity could be indirectly selected outside the host as a correlated response to abiotic environmental conditions or different biotic species interactions. To investigate this, an opportunistic bacterial pathogen, Serratia marcescens, was cultured in the absence and presence of the lytic bacteriophage PPV (Podoviridae) at 25°C and 37°C for four weeks (N = 5). At the end, we measured changes in bacterial phage-resistance and potential virulence traits, and determined the pathogenicity of all bacterial selection lines in the Parasemia plantaginis insect model in vivo. Selection at 37°C increased bacterial motility and pathogenicity but only in the absence of phages. Exposure to phages increased the phage-resistance of bacteria, and this was costly in terms of decreased maximum population size in the absence of phages. However, this small-magnitude growth cost was not greater with bacteria that had evolved in high temperature regime, and no trade-off was found between phage-resistance and growth rate. As a result, phages constrained the evolution of a temperature-mediated increase in bacterial pathogenicity presumably by preferably infecting the highly motile and virulent bacteria. In more general perspective, our results suggest that the traits connected to bacterial pathogenicity could be indirectly selected as a correlated response by abiotic and biotic factors in environmental reservoirs.
Viruses SH1 and P23-77, infecting archaeal Haloarcula species and bacterial Thermus species, respectively, were recently designated to form a novel viral lineage. In this study, the lineage is expanded to archaeal Halomicrobium and bacterial Meiothermus species by analysis of five genome-integrated elements that share the core genes with these viruses.
We have sequenced the genome and identified the structural proteins and lipids of the novel membrane-containing, icosahedral virus P23-77 of Thermus thermophilus. P23-77 has an ∼17-kb circular double-stranded DNA genome, which was annotated to contain 37 putative genes. Virions were subjected to dissociation analysis, and five protein species were shown to associate with the internal viral membrane, while three were constituents of the protein capsid. Analysis of the bacteriophage genome revealed it to be evolutionarily related to another Thermus phage (IN93), archaeal Halobacterium plasmid (pHH205), a genetic element integrated into Haloarcula genome (designated here as IHP for integrated Haloarcula provirus), and the Haloarcula virus SH1. These genetic elements share two major capsid proteins and a putative packaging ATPase. The ATPase is similar with the ATPases found in the PRD1-type viruses, thus providing an evolutionary link to these viruses and furthering our knowledge on the origin of viruses.
The genome sequence of a Bacillus anthracis-specific clear plaque mutant phage, AP50c, contains 31 open reading frames spanning 14,398 bp, has two mutations compared to wild-type AP50t, and has a colinear genome architecture highly similar to that of gram-positive Tectiviridae phages. Spontaneous AP50c-resistant B. anthracis mutants exhibit a mucoid colony phenotype.
The genetic manipulation of marine double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) bacteriophage PM2 (Corticoviridae) has been limited so far. The isolation of an autonomously replicating DNA element of Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis TAC125 and construction of a shuttle vector replicating in both Escherichia coli and Pseudoalteromonas enabled us to design a set of conjugative shuttle plasmids encoding tRNA suppressors for amber mutations. Using a host strain carrying a suppressor plasmid allows the introduction and analysis of nonsense mutations in PM2. Here, we describe the isolation and characterization of a suppressor-sensitive PM2 sus2 mutant deficient in the structural protein P10. To infect and replicate, PM2 delivers its 10-kbp genome across the cell envelopes of two gram-negative Pseudoalteromonas species. The events leading to the internalization of the circular supercoiled dsDNA are puzzling. In a poorly understood process that follows receptor recognition, the virion capsid disassembles and the internal membrane fuses with the host outer membrane. While beginning to unravel the mechanism of this process, we found that protein P10 plays an essential role in the host cell penetration.
The viral capsid protein P2 of bacteriophage PM2 has been crystallized. Preliminary X-ray analysis demonstrates the position and orientation of the two trimers in the asymmetric unit.
PM2 (Corticoviridae) is a dsDNA bacteriophage which contains a lipid membrane beneath its icosahedral capsid. In this respect it resembles bacteriophage PRD1 (Tectiviridae), although it is not known whether the similarity extends to the detailed molecular architecture of the virus, for instance the fold of the major coat protein P2. Structural analysis of PM2 has been initiated and virus-derived P2 has been crystallized by sitting-nanodrop vapour diffusion. Crystals of P2 have been obtained in space group P21212, with two trimers in the asymmetric unit and unit-cell parameters a = 171.1, b = 78.7, c = 130.1 Å. The crystals diffract to 4 Å resolution at the ESRF BM14 beamline (Grenoble, France) and the orientation of the non-crystallographic threefold axes, the spatial relationship between the two trimers and the packing of the trimers within the unit cell have been determined. The trimers form tightly packed layers consistent with the crystal morphology, possibly recapitulating aspects of the arrangement of subunits in the virus.
virus crystallography; lipid-containing bacteriophages; PRD1-adenoviral lineage
The assembly of bacteriophage PRD1 proceeds via formation of empty procapsids containing an internal lipid membrane, into which the linear double-stranded DNA genome is subsequently packaged. The packaging ATPase P9 and other putative packaging proteins have been shown to be located at a unique vertex of the PRD1 capsid. Here, we describe the isolation and characterization of a suppressor-sensitive PRD1 mutant deficient in the unique vertex protein P6. Protein P6 was found to be an essential part of the PRD1 packaging machinery; its absence leads to greatly reduced packaging efficiency. Lack of P6 was not found to affect particle assembly, because in the P6-deficient mutant infection, wild-type (wt) amounts of particles were produced, although most were empty. P6 was determined not to be a specificity factor, as the few filled particles seen in the P6-deficient infection contained only PRD1-specific DNA. The presence of P6 was not necessary for retention of DNA in the capsid once packaging had occurred, and P6-deficient DNA-containing particles were found to be stable and infectious, albeit not as infectious as wt PRD1 virions. A packaging model for bacteriophage PRD1, based on previous results and those obtained in this study, is presented.
Bacteriophage PM2 presently is the only member of the Corticoviridae family. The virion consists of a protein-rich lipid vesicle, which is surrounded by an icosahedral protein capsid. The lipid vesicle encloses a supercoiled circular double-stranded DNA genome of 10,079 bp. PM2 belongs to the marine phage community and is known to infect two gram-negative Pseudoalteromonas species. In this study, we present a characterization of the PM2 genome made using the in vitro transposon insertion mutagenesis approach. Analysis of 101 insertion mutants yielded information on the essential and dispensable regions of the PM2 genome and led to the identification of several new genes. A number of lysis-deficient mutants as well as mutants displaying delayed- and/or incomplete-lysis phenotypes were identified. This enabled us to identify novel lysis-associated genes with no resemblance to those previously described from other bacteriophage systems. Nonessential genome regions are discussed in the context of PM2 genome evolution.
The temperate double-stranded DNA bacteriophage Bam35 infects gram-positive Bacillus thuringiensis cells. Bam35 has an icosahedral protein coat surrounding the viral membrane that encloses the linear 15-kbp DNA genome. The protein coat of Bam35 uses the same assembly principle as that of PRD1, a lytic bacteriophage infecting gram-negative hosts. In this study, we dissected the process of Bam35 entry into discrete steps: receptor binding, peptidoglycan penetration, and interaction with the plasma membrane (PM). Bam35 very rapidly adsorbs to the cell surface, and N-acetyl-muramic acid is essential for Bam35 binding. Zymogram analysis demonstrated that peptidoglycan-hydrolyzing activity is associated with the Bam35 virion. We showed that the penetration of Bam35 through the PM is a divalent-cation-dependent process, whereas adsorption and peptidoglycan digestion are not.
PRD1 is a bacteriophage with an icosahedral outer protein layer surrounding the viral membrane, which encloses the linear double-stranded DNA genome. PRD1 infects gram-negative cells harboring a conjugative IncP plasmid. Here we studied the lytic functions of PRD1. Using infected cells and plasmid-borne lysis genes, we demonstrated that a two-component lysis system (holin-endolysin) operates to release progeny phage particles from the host cell. Monitoring of ion fluxes and the ATP content of the infected cells allowed us to build a model of the sequence of lysis-related physiological changes. A decrease in the intracellular level of ATP is the earliest indicator of cell lysis, followed by the leakage of K+ from the cytosol approximately 20 min prior to the decrease in culture turbidity. However, the K+ efflux does not immediately lead to the depolarization of the cytoplasmic membrane or leakage of the intracellular ATP. These effects are observed only ∼5 to 10 min prior to cell lysis. Similar results were obtained using cells expressing the holin and endolysin genes from plasmids.
Recent studies have indicated that a number of bacterial and eukaryotic viruses that share a common architectural principle are related, leading to the proposal of an early common ancestor. A prediction of this model would be the discovery of similar viruses that infect archaeal hosts. Our main interest lies in icosahedral double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses with an internal membrane, and we now extend our studies to include viruses infecting archaeal hosts. While the number of sequenced archaeal viruses is increasing, very little sequence similarity has been detected between bacterial and eukaryotic viruses. In this investigation we rigorously show that SH1, an icosahedral dsDNA virus infecting Haloarcula hispanica, possesses lipid structural components that are selectively acquired from the host pool. We also determined the sequence of the 31-kb SH1 genome and positively identified genes for 11 structural proteins, with putative identification of three additional proteins. The SH1 genome is unique and, except for a few open reading frames, shows no detectable similarity to other published sequences, but the overall structure of the SH1 virion and its linear genome with inverted terminal repeats is reminiscent of lipid-containing dsDNA bacteriophages like PRD1.
Bam35, a temperate double-stranded DNA bacteriophage with a 15-kb linear genome, infects gram-positive Bacillus thuringiensis cells. Bam35 morphology and genome organization resemble those of PRD1, a lytic phage infecting gram-negative bacteria. Bam35 and PRD1 have an outer protein coat surrounding a membrane that encloses the viral DNA. We used electrochemical methods to investigate physiological changes of the lysogenic and nonlysogenic hosts during Bam35 DNA entry and host cell lysis. During viral DNA entry, there was an early temporal decrease of membrane voltage associated with K+ efflux that took place when either lysogenic or nonlysogenic hosts were infected. Approximately 40 min postinfection, a second strong K+ efflux was registered that was proposed to be associated with the insertion of holin molecules into the plasma membrane. This phenomenon occurred only when nonlysogenic cells were infected. Lysogenic hosts rarely were observed entering the lytic cycle as demonstrated by thin-section electron microscopy.
The icosahedral membrane-containing double-stranded DNA bacteriophage PRD1 has a labile receptor binding spike complex at the vertices. This complex, which is analogous to that of adenovirus, is formed of the penton protein P31, the spike protein P5, and the receptor binding protein P2. Upon infection, the internal phage membrane transforms into a tubular structure that protrudes through a vertex and penetrates the cell envelope for DNA injection. We describe here a new class of PRD1 mutants lacking virion-associated integral membrane protein P16. P16 links the spike complex to the viral membrane and is necessary for spike stability. We also show that the unique vertex used for DNA packaging is intact in the P16-deficient particle, indicating that the 11 adsorption vertices and the 1 portal vertex are functionally and structurally distinct.
The icosahedral bacteriophage PM2 has a circular double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) genome and an internal lipid membrane. It is the only representative of the Corticoviridae family. How the circular supercoiled genome residing inside the viral membrane is translocated into the gram-negative marine Pseudoalteromonas host has been an intriguing question. Here we demonstrate that after binding of the virus to an abundant cell surface receptor, the protein coat is most probably dissociated. During the infection process, the host cell outer membrane becomes transiently permeable to lipophilic gramicidin D molecules proposing fusion with the viral membrane. One of the components of the internal viral lipid core particle is the integral membrane protein P7, with muralytic activity that apparently aids the process of peptidoglycan penetration. Entry of the virion also causes a limited depolarization of the cytoplasmic membrane. These phenomena differ considerably from those observed in the entry process of bacteriophage PRD1, a dsDNA virus, which uses its internal membrane to make a cell envelope-penetrating tubular structure.
Bam35, a 15-kbp double-stranded DNA phage, infects Bacillus thuringiensis. Recently, sequencing of the related Bacillus cereus revealed a 15.1-kbp linear plasmid, pBClin15. We show that pBClin15 closely resembles Bam35 and demonstrate conversion of Bam35 to a prophage. This state is common, as several B. thuringiensis strains release Bam35-related viruses.