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August 1, 2017

Characterization and genome comparisons of three Achromobacter phages of the family Siphoviridae.

In this study, we present the characterization and genomic data of three Achromobacter phages belonging to the family Siphoviridae. Phages 83-24, JWX and JWF were isolated from sewage samples in Paris and Braunschweig, respectively, and infect Achromobacter xylosoxidans, an emerging nosocomial pathogen in cystic fibrosis patients. Analysis of morphology and growth parameters revealed that phages 83-24 and JWX have similar properties, both have nearly the same head and tail measurements, and both have a burst size between 85 and 100 pfu/cell. In regard to morphological properties, JWF had a much longer and more flexible tail compared to other phages. The…

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May 17, 2017

Acquisition of virulence factors in livestock-associated MRSA: Lysogenic conversion of CC398 strains by virulence gene-containing phages.

Staphylococcus aureus MRSA strains belonging to the clonal complex 398 (CC398) are highly prevalent in livestock and companion animals but may also cause serious infections in humans. CC398 strains in livestock usually do not possess well-known virulence factors that can be frequently found in other MRSA sequence types (ST). Since many staphylococcal virulence genes are residing on the genomes of temperate phages, the question arises why livestock-associated (LA-) CC398 strains are only rarely infected by those phages. We isolated and characterized four temperate phages (P240, P282, P630 and P1105) containing genes of the immune evasion cluster (IEC) and/or for the…

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November 1, 2016

Large-scale maps of variable infection efficiencies in aquatic Bacteroidetes phage-host model systems.

Microbes drive ecosystem functioning and their viruses modulate these impacts through mortality, gene transfer and metabolic reprogramming. Despite the importance of virus-host interactions and likely variable infection efficiencies of individual phages across hosts, such variability is seldom quantified. Here, we quantify infection efficiencies of 38 phages against 19 host strains in aquatic Cellulophaga (Bacteroidetes) phage-host model systems. Binary data revealed that some phages infected only one strain while others infected 17, whereas quantitative data revealed that efficiency of infection could vary 10 orders of magnitude, even among phages within one population. This provides a baseline for understanding and modeling intrapopulation…

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September 1, 2015

Emergence of ebola virus escape variants in infected nonhuman primates treated with the MB-003 antibody cocktail.

MB-003, a plant-derived monoclonal antibody cocktail used effectively in treatment of Ebola virus infection in non-human primates, was unable to protect two of six animals when initiated 1 or 2 days post-infection. We characterized a mechanism of viral escape in one of the animals, after observation of two clusters of genomic mutations that resulted in five nonsynonymous mutations in the monoclonal antibody target sites. These mutations were linked to a reduction in antibody binding and later confirmed to be present in a viral isolate that was not neutralized in vitro. Retrospective evaluation of a second independent study allowed the identification of a…

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August 1, 2015

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…

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June 16, 2015

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…

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September 1, 2014

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…

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August 1, 2014

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…

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January 27, 2014

Novel giant siphovirus from Bacillus anthracis features unusual genome characteristics.

Here we present vB_BanS-Tsamsa, a novel temperate phage isolated from Bacillus anthracis, the agent responsible for anthrax infections in wildlife, livestock and humans. Tsamsa phage is a giant siphovirus (order Caudovirales), featuring a long, flexible and non-contractile tail of 440 nm (not including baseplate structure) and an isometric head of 82 nm in diameter. We induced Tsamsa phage in samples from two different carcass sites in Etosha National Park, Namibia. The Tsamsa phage genome is the largest sequenced Bacillus siphovirus, containing 168,876 bp and 272 ORFs. The genome features an integrase/recombinase enzyme, indicative of a temperate lifestyle. Among bacterial strains…

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January 1, 2014

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)…

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December 1, 2012

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.

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July 1, 2012

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,…

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