Leptospira is a phylogenetically unique group of bacteria, and includes the causative agents of leptospirosis, the most globally prevalent zoonosis. Bacteriophages in Leptospira are largely unexplored. To date, a genomic sequence is available for only one temperate leptophage called LE1. Here, we sequenced and analysed the first genomes of the lytic phages LE3 and LE4 that can infect the saprophyte Leptospira biflexa using the lipopolysaccharide O-antigen as receptor. Bioinformatics analysis showed that the 48-kb LE3 and LE4 genomes are similar and contain 62% genes whose function cannot be predicted. Mass spectrometry led to the identification of 21 and 23 phage proteins in LE3 and LE4, respectively. However we did not identify significant similarities with other phage genomes. A search for prophages close to LE4 in the Leptospira genomes allowed for the identification of a related plasmid in L. interrogans and a prophage-like region in the draft genome of a clinical isolate of L. mayottensis. Long-read whole genome sequencing of the L. mayottensis revealed that the genome contained a LE4 phage-like circular plasmid. Further isolation and genomic comparison of leptophages should reveal their role in the genetic evolution of Leptospira.
Journal: Scientific reports