July 19, 2019  |  

Bacteriophage orphan DNA methyltransferases: insights from their bacterial origin, function, and occurrence.

Type II DNA methyltransferases (MTases) are enzymes found ubiquitously in the prokaryotic world, where they play important roles in several cellular processes, such as host protection and epigenetic regulation. Three classes of type II MTases have been identified thus far in bacteria which function in transferring a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) to a target nucleotide base, forming N-6-methyladenine (class I), N-4-methylcytosine (class II), or C-5-methylcytosine (class III). Often, these MTases are associated with a cognate restriction endonuclease (REase) to form a restriction-modification (R-M) system protecting bacterial cells from invasion by foreign DNA. When MTases exist alone, which are then termed orphan MTases, they are believed to be mainly involved in regulatory activities in the bacterial cell. Genomes of various lytic and lysogenic phages have been shown to encode multi- and mono-specific orphan MTases that have the ability to confer protection from restriction endonucleases of their bacterial host(s). The ability of a phage to overcome R-M and other phage-targeting resistance systems can be detrimental to particular biotechnological processes such as dairy fermentations. Conversely, as phages may also be beneficial in certain areas such as phage therapy, phages with additional resistance to host defenses may prolong the effectiveness of the therapy. This minireview will focus on bacteriophage-encoded MTases, their prevalence and diversity, as well as their potential origin and function.


July 19, 2019  |  

Unlocking the mystery of the hard-to-sequence phage genome: PaP1 methylome and bacterial immunity.

Whole-genome sequencing is an important method to understand the genetic information, gene function, biological characteristics and survival mechanisms of organisms. Sequencing large genomes is very simple at present. However, we encountered a hard-to-sequence genome of Pseudomonas aeruginosa phage PaP1. Shotgun sequencing method failed to complete the sequence of this genome.After persevering for 10 years and going over three generations of sequencing techniques, we successfully completed the sequence of the PaP1 genome with a length of 91,715 bp. Single-molecule real-time sequencing results revealed that this genome contains 51?N-6-methyladenines and 152?N-4-methylcytosines. Three significant modified sequence motifs were predicted, but not all of the sites found in the genome were methylated in these motifs. Further investigations revealed a novel immune mechanism of bacteria, in which host bacteria can recognise and repel modified bases containing inserts in a large scale. This mechanism could be accounted for the failure of the shotgun method in PaP1 genome sequencing. This problem was resolved using the nfi- mutant of Escherichia coli DH5a as a host bacterium to construct a shotgun library.This work provided insights into the hard-to-sequence phage PaP1 genome and discovered a new mechanism of bacterial immunity. The methylome of phage PaP1 is responsible for the failure of shotgun sequencing and for bacterial immunity mediated by enzyme Endo V activity; this methylome also provides a valuable resource for future studies on PaP1 genome replication and modification, as well as on gene regulation and host interaction.


July 19, 2019  |  

BREX is a novel phage resistance system widespread in microbial genomes.

The perpetual arms race between bacteria and phage has resulted in the evolution of efficient resistance systems that protect bacteria from phage infection. Such systems, which include the CRISPR-Cas and restriction-modification systems, have proven to be invaluable in the biotechnology and dairy industries. Here, we report on a six-gene cassette in Bacillus cereus which, when integrated into the Bacillus subtilis genome, confers resistance to a broad range of phages, including both virulent and temperate ones. This cassette includes a putative Lon-like protease, an alkaline phosphatase domain protein, a putative RNA-binding protein, a DNA methylase, an ATPase-domain protein, and a protein of unknown function. We denote this novel defense system BREX (Bacteriophage Exclusion) and show that it allows phage adsorption but blocks phage DNA replication. Furthermore, our results suggest that methylation on non-palindromic TAGGAG motifs in the bacterial genome guides self/non-self discrimination and is essential for the defensive function of the BREX system. However, unlike restriction-modification systems, phage DNA does not appear to be cleaved or degraded by BREX, suggesting a novel mechanism of defense. Pan genomic analysis revealed that BREX and BREX-like systems, including the distantly related Pgl system described in Streptomyces coelicolor, are widely distributed in ~10% of all sequenced microbial genomes and can be divided into six coherent subtypes in which the gene composition and order is conserved. Finally, we detected a phage family that evades the BREX defense, implying that anti-BREX mechanisms may have evolved in some phages as part of their arms race with bacteria.© 2014 The Authors.


July 19, 2019  |  

Biosynthesis and function of modified bases in bacteria and their viruses.

Naturally occurring modification of the canonical A, G, C, and T bases can be found in the DNA of cellular organisms and viruses from all domains of life. Bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) are a particularly rich but still underexploited source of such modified variant nucleotides. The modifications conserve the coding and base-pairing functions of DNA, but add regulatory and protective functions. In prokaryotes, modified bases appear primarily to be part of an arms race between bacteriophages (and other genomic parasites) and their hosts, although, as in eukaryotes, some modifications have been adapted to convey epigenetic information. The first half of this review catalogs the identification and diversity of DNA modifications found in bacteria and bacteriophages. What is known about the biogenesis, context, and function of these modifications are also described. The second part of the review places these DNA modifications in the context of the arms race between bacteria and bacteriophages. It focuses particularly on the defense and counter-defense strategies that turn on direct recognition of the presence of a modified base. Where modification has been shown to affect other DNA transactions, such as expression and chromosome segregation, that is summarized, with reference to recent reviews.


July 7, 2019  |  

Covalent modification of bacteriophage T4 DNA inhibits CRISPR-Cas9.

The genomic DNAs of tailed bacteriophages are commonly modified by the attachment of chemical groups. Some forms of DNA modification are known to protect phage DNA from cleavage by restriction enzymes, but others are of unknown function. Recently, the CRISPR-Cas nuclease complexes were shown to mediate bacterial adaptive immunity by RNA-guided target recognition, raising the question of whether phage DNA modifications may also block attack by CRISPR-Cas9. We investigated phage T4 as a model system, where cytosine is replaced with glucosyl-hydroxymethylcytosine (glc-HMC). We first quantified the extent and distribution of covalent modifications in T4 DNA by single-molecule DNA sequencing and enzymatic probing. We then designed CRISPR spacer sequences targeting T4 and found that wild-type T4 containing glc-HMC was insensitive to attack by CRISPR-Cas9 but mutants with unmodified cytosine were sensitive. Phage with HMC showed only intermediate sensitivity. While this work was in progress, another group reported examples of heavily engineered CRISRP-Cas9 complexes that could, in fact, overcome the effects of T4 DNA modification, indicating that modifications can inhibit but do not always fully block attack.Bacteria were recently found to have a form of adaptive immunity, the CRISPR-Cas systems, which use nucleic acid pairing to recognize and cleave genomic DNA of invaders such as bacteriophage. Historic work with tailed phages has shown that phage DNA is often modified by covalent attachment of large chemical groups. Here we demonstrate that DNA modification in phage T4 inhibits attack by the CRISPR-Cas9 system. This finding provides insight into mechanisms of host-virus competition and also a new set of tools that may be useful in modulating the activity of CRISPR-Cas9 in genome engineering applications. Copyright © 2015 Bryson et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Paenibacillus larvae-directed bacteriophage HB10c2 and its application in American Foulbrood-affected honey bee larvae.

Paenibacillus larvae is the causative agent of American foulbrood (AFB), the most serious honey bee brood bacterial disease. We isolated and characterized P. larvae-directed bacteriophages and developed criteria for safe phage therapy. Whole-genome analysis of a highly lytic virus of the family Siphoviridae (HB10c2) provided a detailed safety profile and uncovered its lysogenic nature and a putative beta-lactamase-like protein. To rate its antagonistic activity against the pathogens targeted and to specify potentially harmful effects on the bee population and the environment, P. larvae genotypes ERIC I to IV, representatives of the bee gut microbiota, and a broad panel of members of the order Bacillales were analyzed for phage HB10c2-induced lysis. Breeding assays with infected bee larvae revealed that the in vitro phage activity observed was not predictive of the real-life scenario and therapeutic efficacy. On the basis of the disclosed P. larvae-bacteriophage coevolution, we discuss the future prospects of AFB phage therapy. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of the novel temperate Clostridium difficile phage phiCDIF1296T.

Clostridium difficile contains many integrated and extrachromosomal genetic elements. In this study, we determined, annotated, and analyzed the complete genome of the C. difficile bacteriophage phiCDIF1296T using single-molecule real-time sequencing technology. To our knowledge, this represents the largest genome (131 kb) of a temperate C. difficile phage recognized so far. Copyright © 2015 Wittmann et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of the Clostridium difficile type strain DSM 1296T.

In this study, we sequenced the complete genome of the Clostridium difficile type strain DSM 1296(T). A combination of single-molecule real-time (SMRT) and Illumina sequencing technology revealed the presence of one chromosome and two extrachromosomal elements, the bacteriophage phiCDIF1296T and a putative plasmid-like structure harboring genes of another bacteriophage. Copyright © 2015 Riedel et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Role of restriction-modification systems in prokaryotic evolution and ecology

Restriction–modification (R-M) systems are able to methylate or cleave DNA depending on methylation status of their recognition site. It allows them to protect bacterial cells from invasion by foreign DNA. Comparative analysis of a large number of available bacterial genomes and methylomes clearly demonstrates that the role of R-M systems in bacteria is wider than only defense. R-M systems maintain heterogeneity of a bacterial population and are involved in adaptation of bacteria to change in their environmental conditions. R-M systems can be essential for host colonization by pathogenic bacteria. Phase variation and intragenomic recombinations are sources of the fast evolution of the specificity of R-M systems. This review focuses on the influence of R-M systems on evolution and ecology of prokaryotes.


July 7, 2019  |  

First genome sequences of Achromobacter phages reveal new members of the N4 family.

Multi-resistant Achromobacter xylosoxidans has been recognized as an emerging pathogen causing nosocomially acquired infections during the last years. Phages as natural opponents could be an alternative to fight such infections. Bacteriophages against this opportunistic pathogen were isolated in a recent study. This study shows a molecular analysis of two podoviruses and reveals first insights into the genomic structure of Achromobacter phages so far.Growth curve experiments and adsorption kinetics were performed for both phages. Adsorption and propagation in cells were visualized by electron microscopy. Both phage genomes were sequenced with the PacBio RS II system based on single molecule, real-time (SMRT) technology and annotated with several bioinformatic tools. To further elucidate the evolutionary relationships between the phage genomes, a phylogenomic analysis was conducted using the genome Blast Distance Phylogeny approach (GBDP).In this study, we present the first detailed analysis of genome sequences of two Achromobacter phages so far. Phages JWAlpha and JWDelta were isolated from two different waste water treatment plants in Germany. Both phages belong to the Podoviridae and contain linear, double-stranded DNA with a length of 72329 bp and 73659 bp, respectively. 92 and 89 putative open reading frames were identified for JWAlpha and JWDelta, respectively, by bioinformatic analysis with several tools. The genomes have nearly the same organization and could be divided into different clusters for transcription, replication, host interaction, head and tail structure and lysis. Detailed annotation via protein comparisons with BLASTP revealed strong similarities to N4-like phages.Analysis of the genomes of Achromobacter phages JWAlpha and JWDelta and comparisons of different gene clusters with other phages revealed that they might be strongly related to other N4-like phages, especially of the Escherichia group. Although all these phages show a highly conserved genomic structure and partially strong similarities at the amino acid level, some differences could be identified. Those differences, e.g. the existence of specific genes for replication or host interaction in some N4-like phages, seem to be interesting targets for further examination of function and specific mechanisms, which might enlighten the mechanism of phage establishment in the host cell after infection.


July 7, 2019  |  

Methyltransferases acquired by lactococcal 936-type phage provide protection against restriction endonuclease activity

BACKGROUND:So-called 936-type phages are among the most frequently isolated phages in dairy facilities utilising Lactococcus lactis starter cultures. Despite extensive efforts to control phage proliferation and decades of research, these phages continue to negatively impact cheese production in terms of the final product quality and consequently, monetary return.RESULTS:Whole genome sequencing and in silico analysis of three 936-type phage genomes identified several putative (orphan) methyltransferase (MTase)-encoding genes located within the packaging and replication regions of the genome. Utilising SMRT sequencing, methylome analysis was performed on all three phages, allowing the identification of adenine modifications consistent with N-6 methyladenine sequence methylation, which in some cases could be attributed to these phage-encoded MTases. Heterologous gene expression revealed that M.Phi145I/M.Phi93I and M.Phi93DAM, encoded by genes located within the packaging module, provide protection against the restriction enzymes HphI and DpnII, respectively, representing the first functional MTases identified in members of 936-type phages.CONCLUSIONS:SMRT sequencing technology enabled the identification of the target motifs of MTases encoded by the genomes of three lytic 936-type phages and these MTases represent the first functional MTases identified in this species of phage. The presence of these MTase-encoding genes on 936-type phage genomes is assumed to represent an adaptive response to circumvent host encoded restriction-modification systems thereby increasing the fitness of the phages in a dynamic dairy environment.


July 7, 2019  |  

The odd one out: Bacillus ACT bacteriophage CP-51 exhibits unusual properties compared to related Spounavirinae W.Ph. and Bastille.

The Bacillus ACT group includes three important pathogenic species of Bacillus: anthracis, cereus and thuringiensis. We characterized three virulent bacteriophages, Bastille, W.Ph. and CP-51, that infect various strains of these three species. We have determined the complete genome sequences of CP-51, W.Ph. and Bastille, and their physical genome structures. The CP-51 genome sequence could only be obtained using a combination of conventional and second and third next generation sequencing technologies – illustrating the problems associated with sequencing highly modified DNA. We present evidence that the generalized transduction facilitated by CP-51 is independent of a specific genome structure, but likely due to sporadic packaging errors of the terminase. There is clear correlation of the genetic and morphological features of these phages validating their placement in the Spounavirinae subfamily (SPO1-related phages) of the Myoviridae. This study also provides tools for the development of phage-based diagnostics/therapeutics for this group of pathogens. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Next generation sequencing technologies and the changing landscape of phage genomics.

The dawn of next generation sequencing technologies has opened up exciting possibilities for whole genome sequencing of a plethora of organisms. The 2nd and 3rd generation sequencing technologies, based on cloning-free, massively parallel sequencing, have enabled the generation of a deluge of genomic sequences of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic origin in the last seven years. However, whole genome sequencing of bacterial viruses has not kept pace with this revolution, despite the fact that their genomes are orders of magnitude smaller in size compared with bacteria and other organisms. Sequencing phage genomes poses several challenges; (1) obtaining pure phage genomic material, (2) PCR amplification biases and (3) complex nature of their genetic material due to features such as methylated bases and repeats that are inherently difficult to sequence and assemble. Here we describe conclusions drawn from our efforts in sequencing hundreds of bacteriophage genomes from a variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria using Sanger, 454, Illumina and PacBio technologies. Based on our experience we propose several general considerations regarding sample quality, the choice of technology and a “blended approach” for generating reliable whole genome sequences of phages.


July 7, 2019  |  

Bacteriophage P70: unique morphology and unrelatedness to other Listeria bacteriophages.

Listeria monocytogenes is an important food-borne pathogen, and its bacteriophages find many uses in detection and biocontrol of its host. The novel broad-host-range virulent phage P70 has a unique morphology with an elongated capsid. Its genome sequence was determined by a hybrid sequencing strategy employing Sanger and PacBio techniques. The P70 genome contains 67,170 bp and 119 open reading frames (ORFs). Our analyses suggest that P70 represents an archetype of virus unrelated to other known Listeria bacteriophages.


July 7, 2019  |  

A Clostridioides difficile bacteriophage genome encodes functional binary toxin-associated genes.

Pathogenic clostridia typically produce toxins as virulence factors which cause severe diseases in both humans and animals. Whereas many clostridia like e.g., Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium botulinum or Clostridium tetani were shown to contain toxin-encoding plasmids, only toxin genes located on the chromosome were detected in Clostridioides difficile so far. In this study, we determined, annotated, and analyzed the complete genome of the bacteriophage phiSemix9P1 using single-molecule real-time sequencing technology (SMRT). To our knowledge, this represents the first C. difficile-associated bacteriophage genome that carries a complete functional binary toxin locus in its genome. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Talk with an expert

If you have a question, need to check the status of an order, or are interested in purchasing an instrument, we're here to help.