Phage Tails as Polymeric Substance Probes: Arguments For and Against

Stephen T. Abedon

Department of Microbiology – The Ohio State University

phage.org – phage-therapy.org – biologyaspoetry.org


 

Recently I suggested that:

Phage tails, to the extent that they display smaller diameters than phage virions as a whole, might contribute to nonenzymatic virion translocation into EPS [Extracellular Polymeric Substance, i.e. as associated with biofilm matrix], perhaps with longer, narrower tails permitting deeper or faster local penetration to biofilm-surface located bacteria.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, I now find that this was not an entirely original thought. From Wilkinson (1958), p. 68:

Physical blocking of the surface receptor. Can the presence of a capsule protect the cell simply because of its physical properties? Presumably an infective phage must be able to inject its DNA through the cytoplasmic membrane and, therefore, the main body of the phage must be at a distance from the cytoplasmic membrane smaller than the length of the phage tail (rarely longer than 150 mµ [meaning 150 nm]). Therefore, any layer outside the cytoplasmic membrane which is greater in thickness than 150 mµ and is impermeable to phages will act as a nonspecific phage inhibitor. It has already been shown that a capsule is by definition greater than 150 mµ in thickness and that
it is probably impermeable to particles of the size of a phage head (about 100 mµ). An additional barrier to the phage might be the high negative charge of the polysaccharide capsular surface. In confirmation of this role, capsulate bacteria have been reported to be generally phage resistant…

In my defense, my suggestion pointed specifically to longer phage tails, and the general thrust of my article was that it is especially less mature aspects of biofilms which may be more vulnerable to phages. Less maturity, in other words, might be associated with less thick biofilm matrix, e.g., as perhaps associated with new growth on biofilm surfaces.

Indeed, Wilkinson discusses further an article, unfortunately which is not in English, suggesting that when polymeric substance material is thinner then successful phage adsorption may be more likely (as continuing directly from the previous quote):

Thus, Kauffmann and Vahlne (82) found that most capsulate strains of E. coli were resistant to phage and that when capsulate strains were attacked, there was a proportionality between the thickness of the capsule and the resistance.

One could speculate therefore that it could be, conversely, that shorter tails would be less able to penetrate thicker “capsulate”.

It should be noted that I am making no claims that phage tails exist solely for the sake of penetrating extracellular polymers towards adsorption of bacteria, though it is entirely possible that such penetration could serve as a benefit of possessing especially “longer, narrower tails”.

Freezing Selects for Phage T7 Deletion Mutations… Not!

Stephen T. Abedon

Department of Microbiology – The Ohio State University

phage.org – phage-therapy.org – biologyaspoetry.org


 

Myth: Freezing phage T7 can select for deletion mutations…

From Clark and Geary (1973), with emphasis added:

ATCC freeze-dries phages for distribution (Clark and Geary, 1969). Davis and Hyman (1971) have reported the existence of at least two authentically different T7 phage strains, T7M (Meselsohn) and T7L (Luria) (ATCC 11303-B7). They also stated that T7L lyophilized stock from ATCC contained a high percentage of deletions in the DNA molecule, and they attributed this to lyophilization selecting for DNA deletions. However, since this publication, ATCC prevailed upon these authors to test the ATCC broth stock of T7L, which had been maintained at 4° C unlyophilized or unfrozen since its deposit in the Collection by Luria in 1952. They reported in a letter to W. A. Clark that the T7L stock before freeze-drying contained the same deletions as the freeze-dried product.

In other words, the evidence is not consistent with freezing selecting for deletion mutations in phage T7…

REFERENCES

Clark, W. A., and D. Geary. 1969. The collection of bacteriophages at the American Type Culture Collection, p. 179-187. In T. Nei (ed.), Freezing and Drying Microorganisms. University Park Press, Baltimore.

Clark, W. A., and D. Geary. 1973. Preservation of bacteriophages by freezing and freeze-drying. Cryobiology 10:351-360.

Davis, R. W., and R. W. Hyman. 1971. A study of evolution: The DNA base sequence homology between coliphages T3 and T7. J. Mol. Biol. 62:287-301.

d’Hérelle, F. (1918). Sur le rôle du microbe filtrant bactériophage dans la dysentérie bacillaire. Compt. rend. Acad. Sci. 167:970-972.

Stephen T. Abedon

Department of Microbiology – The Ohio State University

phage.org – phage-therapy.org – biologyaspoetry.org


 

I’ve been meaning to post machine-translated articles for some time now. Here is what you are seeing:

  • The posts are broken up by paragraphs with three sections per
  • The first section is the paragraph more or less retaining original page breaks (for easier reconciliation with the original document)
  • The second section is the paragraphs minus those page breaks
  • The third section, in bold, is the translation generated by Google with occasional help from a human being (e.g., moi)

Please feel free to make suggestions as to how to improve transcriptions and/or translations.

Oh, yes, and feel free to skip to the last “sentence” (actually, fragment), which, I think, is historically the most important point of the article.

BACTÉRIOLOGIE. – Sur le rôle du microbe filtrant bactériophage dans la

dysenterie bacillaire. Note de M. F. D’HÉRELLE, présentée par M. Roux.

 

BACTÉRIOLOGIE. – Sur le rôle du microbe filtrant bactériophage dans la dysenterie bacillaire. Note de M. F. D’HÉRELLE, présentée par M. Roux.

BACTERIOLOGY. – On the role of the filter microbe bacteriophage in bacillary dysentery. Note to Mr. F. D’HÉRELLE, by Mr Roux.

 

Dans une Note préliminaire (1) j’ai décrit un microbe filtrant trouvé

dans les déjections des convalèscents de dysenterie bacillaire. L’emploi

d’une technique moins imparfaite que celle dont je m’étais servi tout

d’abord (2) joint à l’examen systématique des selles de trente-quatre

malades, tous atteints de dysenterie à bacilles de Shiga, et dont plusieurs

ont pu être suivis journellement depuis le début de la maladie jusqu’à la fin

de la convalescence, m’ont permis d’etudier d’une manière plus complète

le mode d’action du microbe bactériophage et de préciser son rôle dans

l’évolution de la maladie.

 

Dans une Note préliminaire (1) j’ai décrit un microbe filtrant trouvé dans les déjections des convalèscents de dysenterie bacillaire. L’emploi d’une technique moins imparfaite que celle dont je m’étais servi tout d’abord (2) joint à l’examen systématique des selles de trente-quatre malades, tous atteints de dysenterie à bacilles de Shiga, et dont plusieurs ont pu être suivis journellement depuis le début de la maladie jusqu’à la fin de la convalescence, m’ont permis d’etudier d’une manière plus complète le mode d’action du microbe bactériophage et de préciser son rôle dans l’évolution de la maladie.

In a preliminary Note (1) I wrote [of] a filter[able] microbe found in excreta of dysentery bacillary [from] convalescents. The use of a technique less imperfect than the one I had used first (2) attached to the systematic examination of stools of thirty-four patients, all dysentery bacilli Shiga, and several of were followed daily from the beginning of the disease until the end of convalescence, allowed me to study in a more complete way the mode of action of the microbe bacteriophage and clarify its role in evolution of the disease.

 

(1) Comptes rendus, t. 165, 1917, p. 373.

(2) Comptes rendus de la Société de Biologie, séance du 7 décembre rg18.

 

Dans les cas de dysenterie bacillaire, même très graves, mais dans lesquels

l’état du patient s’améliore ‘rapidement, le microbe ,bactériophage

manifeste sa présence d’une· manière très active d’emblée, tant sur les cultures

du bacille isolé des déjections du patient que sur les souches du Shiga

du laboratoire, à partir du moment où les symptômes commencent à

s’amender. Le pouvoir bactériophage vis-à-vis du bacille dysentérique cesse

brusquement d’être décelable au début de la convalescence. A· partir de ce

moment, des examens répétés montrent également l’absence de bacilles

pathogènes.

 

Dans les cas de dysenterie bacillaire, même très graves, mais dans lesquels l’état du patient s’améliore ‘rapidement, le microbe ,bactériophage manifeste sa présence d’une manière très active d’emblée, tant sur les cultures du bacille isolé des déjections du patient que sur les souches du Shiga du laboratoire, à partir du moment où les symptômes commencent à s’amender. Le pouvoir bactériophage vis-à-vis du bacille dysentérique cesse brusquement d’être décelable au début de la convalescence. A partir de ce moment, des examens répétés montrent également l’absence de bacilles pathogènes.

In cases of bacillary dysentery, even very serious but in which the patient’s condition is improving quickly, the microbe, bacteriophage demonstrates its presence in a very active from the outset, both cultures of isolated bacillus excreta of the patient as the Shiga strains of laboratory, from the time symptoms begin to mend. Bacteriophage power vis-à-vis the dysentery bacillus suddenly ceases to be detectable in early convalescence. From that moment, repeated examinations also show the absence of pathogenic bacilli.

 

Dans les cas où la maladie se prolonge, le microbe bactériophage ne

manifeste qu’une action mille ou peu marquee, tant que l’état du patient

reste stationnaire. Si, dans quelques cas, l’action bactéricide est reiativement élevée sur les souches ayant subi de nombreux passages sur les

milieux de culture, par contre, elle est toujours inappréciable ou très faible

sur les cultures du bacille provenant du malade en observation. L’amélioration

se manifeste dès que l’action bactériophage devient énergique vis-à-vis de ce dernier.

 

Dans les cas où la maladie se prolonge, le microbe bactériophage ne manifeste qu’une action mille ou peu marquee, tant que l’état du patient reste stationnaire. Si, dans quelques cas, l’action bactéricide est relativement élevée sur les souches ayant subi de nombreux passages sur les milieux de culture, par contre, elle est toujours inappréciable ou très faible sur les cultures du bacille provenant du malade en observation. L’amélioration se manifeste dès que l’action bactériophage devient énergique vis-à-vis de ce dernier.

In cases where the disease is prolonged, the microbe bacteriophage manifesto that an action or a thousand little marquee as long as the patient remains stationary. If, in some cases, the bactericidal action is relatively high stem having undergone many passages on culture media, by cons, it is always invaluable and very low on the cultures of the bacillus from the observation sick. The improvement was evident as soon as the bacteriophage action becomes strong vis-à-vis the latter.

 

Dans les formes de longue durée et à rechutes, le pouvoir bactériophage

du microbe filtrant peut, à certains moments, être très énergique vis-à-vis

des bacilles de culture et variable d’un jour à l’autre, quoique toujours

relativement faible, vis-à-vis du bacille du malade. La guérison suit de près

le moment où l’action du microbe bactériophage se manifeste d’une manière

aussi intense pour l’une comme pour l’autre souche. Cette action persiste;

avec des fluctuations dans l’activité, aussi longtemps que le patient reste

porteur de germes. Ce dernier fait serait même de nature à faciliter le dépistage

des porteurs de germes, la mise en évidence du microbe bactériophage

étant plus simple et plus sûre que la recherche du bacille pathogène dans

les selles.

 

Dans les formes de longue durée et à rechutes, le pouvoir bactériophage du microbe filtrant peut, à certains moments, être très énergique vis-à-vis des bacilles de culture et variable d’un jour à l’autre, quoique toujours relativement faible, vis-à-vis du bacille du malade. La guérison suit de près le moment où l’action du microbe bactériophage se manifeste d’une manière aussi intense pour l’une comme pour l’autre souche. Cette action persiste; avec des fluctuations dans l’activité, aussi longtemps que le patient reste porteur de germes. Ce dernier fait serait même de nature à faciliter le dépistage des porteurs de germes, la mise en évidence du microbe bactériophage étant plus simple et plus sûre que la recherche du bacille pathogène dans les selles.

In the forms of long-term and relapsing, the bacteriophage of the filter microbe authority may, at times, be very aggressive vis-à-vis the bacilli culture and varies from one day to another, though still relatively low, vis-à-vis the bacillus of the patient. Healing closely when the action of the microbe bacteriophage manifests an intense way for the one as for the other strain. This action persists; with fluctuations in activity, as long as the patient remains buoyant germs. The latter would be able to facilitate the screening of carriers, the detection of the bacteriophage microbe is simpler and safer than the search for the pathogenic bacterium in the stool.

 

J’ai pu vérifier que , l’action du microbe bactériophage était prépondérante,

non pas seulement en ce qui touche à la disparition du bacille dysentérique

de l’intestin une fois la maladie déclarée, mais encore lors de son

éclosion. Au cours de la récente épidémie, j’ai eu l’occasion d’observer

plusieurs cas extrêmement bénins dans lesquels les symptômes se limitèrent

à quelques épreintes et à deux ou trois selles diarrhéiques: or, dans

tous ces cas, le microbe bactériophage fut, dès le début, présent et doué

d’un pouvoir antagoniste élevé. Malgré la bénignité de l’affection, il s’agissait

bien de dysenterie car, dans trois de ces cas, je pus isoler de la

première selle diarrhéique émise un bacille de Shiga typique.

 

J’ai pu vérifier que , l’action du microbe bactériophage était prépondérante, non pas seulement en ce qui touche à la disparition du bacille dysentérique de l’intestin une fois la maladie déclarée, mais encore lors de son éclosion. Au cours de la récente épidémie, j’ai eu l’occasion d’observer plusieurs cas extrêmement bénins dans lesquels les symptômes se limitèrent à quelques épreintes et à deux ou trois selles diarrhéiques: or, dans tous ces cas, le microbe bactériophage fut, dès le début, présent et doué d’un pouvoir antagoniste élevé. Malgré la bénignité de l’affection, il s’agissait bien de dysenterie car, dans trois de ces cas, je pus isoler de la première selle diarrhéique émise un bacille de Shiga typique.

I could verify that the action of the bacteriophage was dominant microbe, not only as it relates to the disappearance of dysentery bacillus bowel disease once declared, but during its outbreak. In the recent outbreak, I had the opportunity to observe several extremely mild cases in which symptoms were limited to a few tenesmus and two or three loose stools: gold, in all these cases, the microbe was bacteriophage, from the beginning, and now endowed with a high antagonistic power. Despite the mildness of the disease, it was good of dysentery because in three of these cases, I could isolate the first loose stool issued a typical Shiga bacillus.

 

Le microbe bactériophage préexiste dans l’intestin ou il vit narmalement

aux dépens du B. coli. Dans les selles normales, son pouvoir antagoniste

vis-à-vis de ce dernier bacille est toujours très faible; il peut devenir

considérable dans divers états morbides, dans certaines formes d’entérites

et de diarrhée banales, par exemple. La présence de bacilles dysentériques

dans l’intestin détermine en premier lieu une exaltation considérable de

la virulence du microbe bactériophage vis-à-vis du B. coli, puis, par une

accoutumance plus ou moins rapide, cette virulence s’exalte vis-à-vis du

bacille dysentérique; elle atteint d’emblée ou graduellement une puissance

considérable amenant la disparition rapide ou graduelle du bacille pathogène. Si la virulence du microbe bactériophage s’exalte d’emblée, les

bacilles dysentériques sont détruits dès le début de leur culture dans le

contenu intestinal, la maladie avorte avant tout symptôme ou se borne à

quelques troubles passagers. Si, pour une cause qui reste à déterminer, la

virulence du microbe bactériophage vis-à-vis du microbe pathogène ne se

manifeste pas d’emblée ou ne se manifeste que faiblement, une lutte s’établit

entre les deux organismes, les bacilles dysentériques se multiplient

dans le contenu intestinal, infiltrent la’ muqueuse, la maladie èclate et

l’état du patient enregistre ensuite fidèlement les fluctuations de la lutte.

 

Le microbe bactériophage préexiste dans l’intestin ou il vit narmalement aux dépens du B. coli. Dans les selles normales, son pouvoir antagoniste vis-à-vis de ce dernier bacille est toujours très faible; il peut devenir considérable dans divers états morbides, dans certaines formes d’entérites et de diarrhée banales, par exemple. La présence de bacilles dysentériques dans l’intestin détermine en premier lieu une exaltation considérable de la virulence du microbe bactériophage vis-à-vis du B. coli, puis, par une accoutumance plus ou moins rapide, cette virulence s’exalte vis-à-vis du bacille dysentérique; elle atteint d’emblée ou graduellement une puissance considérable amenant la disparition rapide ou graduelle du bacille pathogène. Si la virulence du microbe bactériophage s’exalte d’emblée, les bacilles dysentériques sont détruits dès le début de leur culture dans le contenu intestinal, la maladie avorte avant tout symptôme ou se borne à quelques troubles passagers. Si, pour une cause qui reste à déterminer, la virulence du microbe bactériophage vis-à-vis du microbe pathogène ne se manifeste pas d’emblée ou ne se manifeste que faiblement, une lutte s’établit entre les deux organismes, les bacilles dysentériques se multiplient dans le contenu intestinal, infiltrent la’ muqueuse, la maladie èclate et l’état du patient enregistre ensuite fidèlement les fluctuations de la lutte.

The microbe bacteriophage pre-exists in the intestine where it normally lives at the expense of B. coli. In normal stool, his antagonist power vis-à-vis the latter bacillus is still very low; it can become considerable in various disease states, in some forms of enteritis and diarrhea mundane, for example. The presence of dysentery bacilli in the intestine first determines considerable exaltation of the virulence of the microbe bacteriophage vis-à-vis the B. coli, and by a more or less rapid habituation, this virulence exalts vis-à -vis the dysentery bacillus; she reached immediately or gradually considerable power causing the rapid or gradual disappearance of pathogenic bacillus. If the virulence of the microbe bacteriophage exalts the outset, the dysentery bacilli are destroyed at the beginning of their culture in the intestinal contents, disease aborted before any symptoms or merely some temporary disturbance. If, for reasons yet to be determined, the virulence of the bacteriophage vis-à-vis the pathogen microbe does not manifest itself immediately or appears only faintly, a struggle takes place between the two organizations, dysentery bacilli multiply in the intestinal content, infiltrate the mucosal, the disease breaks out and the patient then records faithfully the fluctuations of the struggle.

 

En résumé, la pathogénie et la pathologie de la dysenterie pacillaire sont

dominées par deux facteurs agissant en sens contraire: le bacille dysentérique,

agent pathogène, et le microbe filtrant bactériophage, agent d’immunité.

 

En résumé, la pathogénie et la pathologie de la dysenterie pacillaire sont dominées par deux facteurs agissant en sens contraire: le bacille dysentérique, agent pathogène, et le microbe filtrant bactériophage, agent d’immunité.

In summary, the pathogenesis and pathology of dysentery pacillaire are dominated by two factors working in opposite directions: the dysentery bacillus, pathogen, and the filter microbe bacteriophage immunity agent.

 

Comme corollaire, l’expérimentation sur le lapin montre que les cultures

du microbe bactériophage jouissent d’un pouvoir préventif et curatif

dans la maladie expérimentale; d’autre part, le microbe bactériophage se

trouve invariablement présent dans l’intestin des malades dès que les symptômes s’amendent; il semble donc logique de proposer comme traitement

de la dysenterie bacillaire l’administration, dès l’apparition des premiers

symptômes, de cultures actives du microbe bactériophage.

 

Comme corollaire, l’expérimentation sur le lapin montre que les cultures du microbe bactériophage jouissent d’un pouvoir préventif et curatif dans la maladie expérimentale; d’autre part, le microbe bactériophage se trouve invariablement présent dans l’intestin des malades dès que les symptômes s’amendent; il semble donc logique de proposer comme traitement de la dysenterie bacillaire l’administration, dès l’apparition des premiers symptômes, de cultures actives du microbe bactériophage.

As a corollary, testing on rabbits showed that cultures of bacteriophage microbe enjoy a preventive and curative power in the experimental disease; secondly, the microbe bacteriophage is consistently present in the intestine of patients as soon as symptoms make amends; so it seems logical to propose as a treatment for shigellosis administration, from the onset of symptoms, active cultures of the microbe bacteriophage.

 

 

 

Cages of phages: improved production of hydrogen by enzymes encapsulated in phage capsids

A guest post by Dr. Paul Hyman,
Ashland University, Ashland, OH, USA
phyman@ashland.edu

Bacteriophage capsids have been studied as frameworks for the development of new materials. In part this is an outgrowth of phage display which allows the precise placement of binding elements on the phage surface. But another approach is to use the native capsids and to nonspecifically attach conductive metals to create wire-like structures or to capture and encapsulate molecules in the capsids as the capsids assemble. In a recent paper in Nature Chemistry, Trevor Douglas’ group at Indiana University and colleagues have shown that the efficiency of an enzyme that reduces protons to form hydrogen gas is more efficient and stable when enclosed in a bacteriophage capsid.

The bacteriophage they used is the Salmonella phage P22.  P22’s capsid is an icosahedron composed of a major coat protein assembled onto a scaffold protein. Coat protein and scaffold protein self-assemble into a procapsid that during a normal infection is then packaged with the phage DNA.  The researchers fused the two subunits of a hydrogenase protein to separate scaffold protein genes.  When expressed together with coat protein, procapsid self-assembled with the heterodimeric hydrogenase protein inside as outlined in this figure.

Hyman blog post

(modified from Jordan 2015)

When they tested for hydrogenase activity, the highest efficiency was found if the scaffold protein/hydrogenase subunits were expressed several hours before the coat protein (line one in the table).  This pre-encapsulation period presumably allowed the two hydrogenase subunits to assemble into the active heterodimer before being constrained by the coat protein.

pH 5 pH 8
P22 encapsulated with sequential expression 6118 nmol H2/mg min 3218 nmol H2/mg min
P22 encapsulated with simultaneous expression 757 nmol H2/mg min
Unencapsulated hydrogenase + scaffold without coat protein 46 nmol H2/mg min 12.6 nmol H2/mg min
Free hydrogenase 12-38 nmol H2/mg min (pH not specified)

Data from Jordan 2015

Additional experiments showed that the encapsulation also partially protected the hydrogenase against trypsin, heat denaturation (60°C for 45 min.) and air exposure.

The reason for the increased enzymatic activity is not entirely clear.  The increased activity and protection results suggest that the enzyme’s quaternary structure is stabilized in some way in the capsid.  It may also be that enzyme efficiency is higher when several hundred copies of the enzyme are in close proximity to each other in some sort of synergistic effect.

Overall, this paper demonstrates another way that phages can be used in non-biological technologies as well as biological.  Independent of the phage aspect, an improved catalyst for production of hydrogen gas could prove quite valuable as alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, are increasingly sought after.

Reference: Paul C. Jordan, Dustin P. Patterson, Kendall N. Saboda, Ethan J. Edwards, Heini M. Miettinen, Gautam Basu, Megan C. Thielges, and Trevor Douglas, “Self-Assembling Biomolecular Catalysts for Hydrogen Production”, Nature Chemistry doi:10.1038/nchem.2416, published on-line December 21, 2015.

Archaeal Virus as Cat Toy

Stephen T. Abedon

Department of Microbiology – The Ohio State University

phage.org – phage-therapy.org – biologyaspoetry.org


 

This post is/was inspired by Stedman, K. M., M. DeYoung, M. Saha, M. B. Sherman, and M. C. Morais. 2015. Structural insights into the architecture of the hyperthermophilic fusellovirus SSV1. Virology 474:105-109. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25463608)

Turns out this spindle-shaped virus of Sulfolobus, potentially resembling “two fused fullerene cones”, is an almost perfect prolate spheroid, which (apparently) is the shape of a pig’s bladder, which in turn is the shape of the American football.

The virus itself, however, possesses a “hexameric tail”, which sort of looks like streamers emanating from one end of the “football”. And that, in turn, sure looks an awful lot like this, particularly were the tail trimmed:

http://www.entirelypets.com/jw-pet-cataction-football-streamers.html

“Art” imitates life belongs to cats!

For my renderings on this subject – archaeal virus as football – see:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bacteriophage-Ecology-Group/111721928901953

 

 

The ecology of viruses that infect eukaryotic algae

The world of algal viruses has only gotten more interesting in recent years as it has become increasingly clear just the sheer quantity of mortality they cause and how much that drives global nutrient cycling in ways we’ve been largely blind to.

Chlorovirus

The ecology of viruses that infect eukaryotic algae

Because viruses of eukaryotic algae are incredibly diverse, sweeping generalizations about their ecology are rare. These obligate parasites infect a range of algae and their diversity can be illustrated by considering that isolates range from small particles with ssRNA genomes to much larger particles with 560 kb dsDNA genomes. Molecular research has also provided clues about the extent of their diversity especially considering that genetic signatures of algal viruses in the environment rarely match cultivated viruses. One general concept in algal virus ecology that has emerged is that algal viruses are very host specific and most infect only certain strains of their hosts; with the exception of viruses of brown algae, evidence for interspecies infectivity is lacking. Although some host–virus systems behave with boom-bust oscillations, complex patterns of intraspecies infectivity can lead to host–virus coexistence obfuscating the role of viruses in host population dynamics. Within the framework of population dynamics, host density dependence is an important phenomenon that influences virus abundances in nature. Variable burst sizes of different viruses also influence their abundances and permit speculations about different life strategies, but as exceptions are common in algal virus ecology, life strategy generalizations may not be broadly applicable. Gaps in knowledge of virus seasonality and persistence are beginning to close and investigations of environmental reservoirs and virus resilience may answer questions about virus inter-annual recurrences. Studies of algal mortality have shown that viruses are often important agents of mortality reinforcing notions about their ecological relevance, while observations of the surprising ways viruses interact with their hosts highlight the immaturity of our understanding. Considering that just two decades ago algal viruses were hardly acknowledged, recent progress affords the optimistic perspective that future studies will provide keys to unlocking our understanding of algal virus ecology specifically, and aquatic ecosystems generally.

Data Storage and Standard Parts

Genetic data storage, scaleable cell-cell communication, and still-better gene expression, all thanks to phage!

Cross-talk between Diverse Serine Integrases

Abstract
Phage-encoded serine integrases are large serine recombinases that mediate integrative and excisive site-specific recombination of temperate phage genomes. They are well suited for use in heterologous systems and for synthetic genetic circuits as the attP and attB attachment sites are small (< 50 bp), there are no host factor or DNA supercoiling requirements, and they are strongly directional, doing only excisive recombination in the presence of a recombination directionality factor. Combining different recombinases that function independently and without cross-talk to construct complex synthetic circuits is desirable, and several different serine integrases are available. However, we show here that these functions are not reliably predictable, and we describe a pair of serine integrases encoded by mycobacteriophages Bxz2 and Peaches with unusual and unpredictable specificities. The integrases share only 59% amino acid sequence identity and the attP sites have fewer than 50% shared bases, but they use the same attB site and there is non-reciprocal cross-talk between the two systems. The DNA binding specificities do not result from differences in specific DNA contacts but from the constraints imposed by the configuration of the component half-sites within each of the attachment site DNAs.

New Applications for Phage Integrases

Within the last 25 years, bacteriophage integrases have rapidly risen to prominence as genetic tools for a wide range of applications from basic cloning to genome engineering. Serine integrases such as that from ϕC31 and its relatives have found an especially wide range of applications within diverse micro-organisms right through to multi-cellular eukaryotes. Here, we review the mechanisms of the two major families of integrases, the tyrosine and serine integrases, and the advantages and disadvantages of each type as they are applied in genome engineering and synthetic biology. In particular, we focus on the new areas of metabolic pathway construction and optimization, biocomputing, heterologous expression and multiplexed assembly techniques. Integrases are versatile and efficient tools that can be used in conjunction with the various extant molecular biology tools to streamline the synthetic biology production line.

21st Biennial Evergreen International Phage Meeting!

the-evergreen-state-college

You can register for the 21st Biennial Evergreen International Phage Meeting Aug. 2-7 on the Evergreen web site: www.evergreen.edu/phage.  If you register by April 30, you will qualify for the “Early Registration” rate: $600 for academics, $700 for Corporate Rate, $450 for graduate and undergraduate students and guests.  This covers all meeting costs, including room and board.  (If you choose to stay off campus, it will be $150 less, but still include meals.)  Some registration assistance is potentially available.

You will then have until May 24 to at least pay a $100 nonrefundable deposit, apply for assistance, or tell us that you are waiting for a visa.  If you register after May 1, the rates will be $100 more in each category.  Further meeting information is on the web site and will be regularly updated there.

Virologica Sinica special issue on “Phages and Therapy”

Note: Open access to this special issue no longer appears to be available…

2015, Volume 30, Issue 1

EDITORIAL

Bacteriophages, revitalized after 100 years in the shadow of antibiotics [pubmed]
Hongping Wei
In this issue, readers will not only find that bacteriophage research is a booming field but also learn about the diverse applications currently being explored for bacteriophages. The biggest driving force behind these applications is the serious threat of bacterial antibiotic resistance that is emerging in the current era.

REVIEWS

Bacteriophage secondary infection [pubmed]
Stephen T Abedon
Phages are credited with having been first described in what we now, officially, are commemorating as the 100th. anniversary of their discovery. Those one-hundred years of phage history have not been lacking in excitement, controversy, and occasional convolution. One such complication is the concept of secondary infection, which can take on multiple forms with myriad consequences. The terms secondary infection and secondary adsorption, for example, can be used almost synonymously to describe virion interaction with already phage-infected bacteria, and which can result in what are described as superinfection exclusion or superinfection immunity. The phrase secondary infection also may be used equivalently to superinfection or coinfection, with each of these terms borrowed from medical microbiology, and can result in genetic exchange between phages, phage-on-phage parasitism, and various partial reductions in phage productivity that have been termed mutual exclusion, partial exclusion, or the depressor effect. Alternatively, and drawing from epidemiology, secondary infection has been used to describe phage population growth as that can occur during active phage therapy as well as upon phage contamination of industrial ferments. Here primary infections represent initial bacterial population exposure to phages while consequent phage replication can lead to additional, that is, secondary infections of what otherwise are not yet phage-infected bacteria. Here I explore the varying meanings and resultant ambiguity that has been associated with the term secondary infection. I suggest in particular that secondary infection, as distinctly different phenomena, can in multiple ways infl uence the success of phage-mediated biocontrol of bacteria, also known as, phage therapy.

Bacteriophage therapy against Enterobacteriaceae [pubmed]
Youqiang Xu, Yong Liu, Yang Liu, Jiangsen Pei, Su Yao, Chi Cheng
The Enterobacteriaceae are a class of gram-negative facultative anaerobic rods, which can cause a variety of diseases, such as bacteremia, septic arthritis, endocarditis, osteomyelitis, lower respiratory tract infections, skin and soft-tissue infections, urinary tract infections, intra-abdominal infections and ophthalmic infections, in humans, poultry, animals and fi sh. Disease caused by Enterobacteriaceae cause the deaths of millions of people every year, resulting in enormous economic loss. Drug treatment is a useful and effi cient way to control Enterobacteriaceae infections. However, with the abuse of antibiotics, drug resistance has been found in growing number of Enterobacteriaceae infections and, as such, there is an urgent need to find new methods of control. Bacteriophage therapy is an efficient alternative to antibiotics as it employs a different antibacterial mechanism. This paper summarizes the history of bacteriophage therapy, its bacterial lytic mechanisms, and the studies that have focused on Enterobacteriaceae and bacteriophage therapy.

Survival and proliferation of the lysogenic bacteriophage CTXΦ in Vibrio cholerae [pubmed]
Fenxia Fan, Biao Kan
The lysogenic phage CTXΦ of Vibrio cholerae can transfer the cholera toxin gene both horizontally (inter-strain) and vertically (cell proliferation). Due to its diversity in form and species, the complexity of regulatory mechanisms, and the important role of the infection mechanism in the production of new virulent strains of V. cholerae, the study of the lysogenic phage CTXΦ has attracted much attention. Based on the progress of current research, the genomic features and their arrangement, the host-dependent regulatory mechanisms of CTXΦ phage survival, proliferation and propagation were reviewed to further understand the phage’s role in the evolutionary and epidemiological mechanisms of V. cholerae.

Phage lytic enzymes: a history [pubmed]
David Trudil
There are many recent studies regarding the efficacy of bacteriophage-related lytic enzymes: the enzymes of ‘bacteria-eaters’ or viruses that infect bacteria. By degrading the cell wall of the targeted bacteria, these lytic enzymes have been shown to efficiently lyse Gram-positive bacteria without affecting normal fl ora and non-related bacteria. Recent studies have suggested approaches for lysing Gram-negative bacteria as well (Briersa Y, et al., 2014). These enzymes include: phage-lysozyme, endolysin, lysozyme, lysin, phage lysin, phage lytic enzymes, phageassociated enzymes, enzybiotics, muralysin, muramidase, virolysin and designations such as Ply, PAE and others. Bacteriophages are viruses that kill bacteria, do not contribute to antimicrobial resistance, are easy to develop, inexpensive to manufacture and safe for humans, animals and the environment. The current focus on lytic enzymes has been on their use as anti-infectives in humans and more recently in agricultural research models. The initial translational application of lytic enzymes, however, was not associated with treating or preventing a specifi c disease but rather as an extraction method to be incorporated in a rapid bacterial detection assay (Bernstein D, 1997).The current review traces the translational history of phage lytic enzymes-from their initial discovery in 1986 for the rapid detection of group A streptococcus in clinical specimens to evolving applications in the detection and prevention of disease in humans and in agriculture.

RESEARCH ARTICLES

Selection of phages and conditions for the safe phage therapy against Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections [pubmed]
Victor Krylov, Olga Shaburova, Elena Pleteneva, Sergey Krylov, Alla Kaplan, Maria Burkaltseva, Olga Polygach, Elena Chesnokova
The emergence of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens forced us to consider the phage therapy as one of the possible alternative approaches to treatment. The purpose of this paper is to consider the conditions for the safe, long-term use of phage therapy against various infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We describe the selection of the most suitable phages, their most effective combinations and some approaches for the rapid recognition of phages unsuitable for use in therapy. The benefi ts and disadvantages of the various different approaches to the preparation of phage mixtures are considered, together with the specifi c conditions that are required for the safe application of phage therapy in general hospitals and the possibilities for the development of personalized phage therapy.

Molecular dissection of phage lysin PlySs2: integrity of the catalytic and cell wall binding domains is essential for its broad lytic activity [pubmed]
Yanling Huang, Hang Yang, Junping Yu, Hongping Wei
The novel phage lysin PlySs2, is reported to be highly active against various bacteria, including staphylococci, streptococci and Listeria. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying its broad lytic spectrum remain to be established. In the present study, the lytic activity of the catalytic domain (CD, PlySc) and binding specificity of the cell wall binding domain (CBD, PlySb) of PlySs2 were examined. Our results showed that PlySc alone maintains very limited lytic activity. Enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-fused PlySb displayed high binding affinity to the streptococcal strains tested, including S. suis, S. dysgalactiae, and S. agalactiae, but not staphylococci, supporting its utility as a good CBD donor for streptococcal-targeted lysin engineering. EGFP-fused intact PlySs2 similarly displayed high affinity for streptococci, but not staphylococci. Notably, four truncated PlySb fragments showed no binding capacity. These fi ndings collectively indicate that integrity of the PlySc and PlySb domains is an essential determinant of the broad lytic activity of PlySs2.

Isolation and characterization of glacier VMY22, a novel lytic cold-active bacteriophage of Bacillus cereus [pubmed]
Xiuling Ji, Chunjing Zhang, Yuan Fang, Qi Zhang, Lianbing Lin, Bing Tang, Yunlin Wei
As a unique ecological system with low temperature and low nutrient levels, glaciers are considered a “living fossil” for the research of evolution. In this work, a lytic cold-active bacteriophage designated VMY22 against Bacillus cereus MYB41-22 was isolated from Mingyong Glacier in China, and its characteristics were studied. Electron microscopy revealed that VMY22 has an icosahedral head (59.2 nm in length, 31.9 nm in width) and a tail (43.2 nm in length). Bacteriophage VMY22 was classifi ed as a Podoviridae with an approximate genome size of 18 to 20 kb. A one-step growth curve revealed that the latent and the burst periods were 70 and 70 min, respectively, with an average burst size of 78 bacteriophage particles per infected cell. The pH and thermal stability of bacteriophage VMY22 were also investigated. The maximum stability of the bacteriophage was observed to be at pH 8.0 and it was comparatively stable at pH 5.0-9.0. As VMY22 is a cold-active bacteriophage with low production temperature, its characterization and the relationship between MYB41-22 and Bacillus cereus bacteriophage deserve further study.

LETTERS

Variation of resistance and infectivity between Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 and bacteriophage Ф2 and its therapeutic implications [pubmed]
Hanchen Chen, Guohua Chen
Studies of the coevolutionary dynamics between Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 and bacteriophage Ф can explore host resistance and parasite infectivity with applications in the ecological and therapeutic fields.Coevolutionary dynamics determine the efficacy of phage-based therapy. In the study described here, bacterial resistance and phage infectivity fluctuated with culturetime, perhaps resulting from random mutation and temporaladaptation, which reminds us of the necessity toconsider evolutionary mechanisms when applying phageto treat bacterial infections.

A novel transposable Mu-like prophage in Bacillus alcalophilus CGMCC 1.3604 (ATCC 27647) [pubmed]
Junjie Yang, Yimeng Kong, Xuan Li, Sheng Yang
In this letter, we provide evidence for the first transposable prophage BalMu-1 in Bacilli. The transposable prophage (BalMu-1, Genbank No. KP063902 and KP063903) was identified in Bacillus alcalophilus CGMCC 1.3604(ATCC 27647) through high throughput genome sequencing and PCR-dideoxy chain-termination(Sanger) sequencing.

Isolation and characterization of a lytic bacteriophage φKp-lyy15 of Klebsiella pneumoniae [pubmed]
Yinyin Lu, Hongyan Shi, Zhe Zhang, Fang Han, Jinghua Li, Yanbo Sun
In conclusion, the lytic bacteriophage φKp-lyy belonging to the Siphoviridae family specific for K. pneumonia was isolated and characterized. φKp-lyy displayed a short latent period, stability to a wide pH rang, high thermal resistance, and lytic activity toward a relatively broad range of K. pneumonia isolates. Thus, phage φKplyy should be considered as a candidate for inclusion in phage cocktails to control K. pneumoniae-associated nosocomial infections.

Expression and purification of recombinant lyase gp17 from the LSB-1 phage in Escherichia coli [pubmed]
Taiwu Wang, Hui Lin, Lu Zhang, Guorong Huang, Long Wu, Lei Yu, Hongyan Xiong
In this study, we successfully expressed and purified the recombinant gp17 protein from the LSB-1 phage and also confirmed its bacteriostatic effect. Assays also showed that the recombinant enzyme was soluble and had signifi cant lyase effects on the host bacterium, EIEC8401. A preliminary study demonstrated that the enzyme did not have inhibitory effects on other strains (unpublished data), which might indicate that the exclusive antibacterial effect of gp17 on EIEC8401 could have a special significance in practical application in bacterial therapy.

T4-like coliphage φKAZ14 virulent to pathogenic and extended spectrum β-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli of poultry origin [pubmed]
Kaikabo Adamu Ahmad, Abdulkarim Sabo Mohanmmed, Faridah Abas, Sieo Chin Chin
The aim of the present study was to isolate bacteriophages for the pre-harvest biocontrol of APEC 01 and ESBL-producing E. coli in chicken, in order to mitigate the risk of these pathogens to the food chain. Isolation and characterization of the T4-like coliphage KAZ14, lytic to APEC 01 and ESBL-producing E. coli, is reported and discussed.

Isolation and complete genome sequence of a novel virulent mycobacteriophage, CASbig [pubmed]
Tieshan Teng, Junping Yu, Hang Yang, Hongping Wei
In this study, we report the isolation and the complete genome of a novel mycobacteriophage, CASbig, which has an icosahedral head (diameter 50 ± 2 nm) and a long, non-contractile tail (length 160 ± 5 nm) with transverse striations, ending in a small knob. The length of the tail includes the middle of the baseplate, and the head measurements were taken between opposite apices. These characteristics indicate that the phage belongs to the family Siphoviridae morphotypes.

INSIGHT

Experience of the Eliava Institute in bacteriophage therapy [pubmed]
Mzia Kutateladze
The rapid propagation of multidrug resistant bacterial strains is leading to renewed interest in bacteriophage therapy. With challenges in the treatment of bacterial infections, it is essential for people worldwide to understand how alternative approaches, such as bacteriophages, could be used to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Eliava Institute of Bacteriophages, Microbiology and Virology (Tbilisi, Georgia) is arguably the most famous institution in the world focused on the isolation, study, and selection of phages active against a variety of bacterial pathogens.