skip to main content

Title: Interactions between Viral Regulatory Proteins Ensure an MOI-Independent Probability of Lysogeny during Infection by Bacteriophage P1
ABSTRACT Phage P1 is a temperate phage which makes the lytic or lysogenic decision upon infecting bacteria. During the lytic cycle, progeny phages are produced and the cell lyses, and in the lysogenic cycle, P1 DNA exists as a low-copy-number plasmid and replicates autonomously. Previous studies at the bulk level showed that P1 lysogenization was independent of m ultiplicity o f i nfection (MOI; the number of phages infecting a cell), whereas lysogenization probability of the paradigmatic phage λ increases with MOI. However, the mechanism underlying the P1 behavior is unclear. In this work, using a fluorescent reporter system, we demonstrated this P1 MOI-independent lysogenic response at the single-cell level. We further observed that the activity of the major repressor of lytic functions (C1) is a determining factor for the final cell fate. Specifically, the repression activity of P1, which arises from a combination of C1, the anti-repressor Coi, and the corepressor Lxc, remains constant for different MOI, which results in the MOI-independent lysogenic response. Additionally, by increasing the distance between phages that infect a single cell, we were able to engineer a λ-like, MOI-dependent lysogenization upon P1 infection. This suggests that the large separation of coinfecting phages attenuates the effective communication between them, allowing them to make decisions independently of each other. Our work establishes a highly quantitative framework to describe P1 lysogeny establishment. This system plays an important role in disseminating antibiotic resistance by P1-like plasmids and provides an alternative to the lifestyle of phage λ. IMPORTANCE Phage P1 has been shown potentially to play an important role in disseminating antibiotic resistance among bacteria during lysogenization, as evidenced by the prevalence of P1 phage-like elements in animal and human pathogens. In contrast to phage λ, a cell fate decision-making paradigm, P1 lysogenization was shown to be independent of MOI. In this work, we built a simple genetic model to elucidate this MOI independency based on the gene-regulatory circuitry of P1. We also proposed that the effective communication between coinfecting phages contributes to the lysis-lysogeny decision-making of P1 and highlighted the significance of spatial organization in the process of cell fate determination in a single-cell environment. Finally, our work provides new insights into different strategies acquired by viruses to interact with their bacterial hosts in different scenarios for their optimal survival.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;  ; ;
Gottesman, Susan
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. When host cells are in low abundance, temperate bacteriophages opt for dormant (lysogenic) infection. Phage lambda implements this strategy by increasing the frequency of lysogeny at higher multiplicity of infection (MOI). However, it remains unclear how the phage reliably counts infecting viral genomes even as their intracellular number increases because of replication. By combining theoretical modeling with single-cell measurements of viral copy number and gene expression, we find that instead of hindering lambda’s decision, replication facilitates it. In a nonreplicating mutant, viral gene expression simply scales with MOI rather than diverging into lytic (virulent) and lysogenic trajectories. A similar pattern is followed during early infection by wild-type phage. However, later in the infection, the modulation of viral replication by the decision genes amplifies the initially modest gene expression differences into divergent trajectories. Replication thus ensures the optimal decision—lysis upon single-phage infection and lysogeny at higher MOI. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Temperate phages are viruses of bacteria that can establish two types of infection: a lysogenic infection in which the virus replicates with the host cell without producing virions, and a lytic infection where the host cell is eventually destroyed, and new virions are released. While both lytic and lysogenic infections are routinely observed in the environment, the ecological and evolutionary processes regulating these viral dynamics are still not well understood, especially for uncultivated virus-host pairs. Here, we characterized the long-term dynamics of uncultivated viruses infecting green sulfur bacteria (GSB) in a model freshwater lake (Trout Bog Lake, TBL). As no GSB virus has been formally described yet, we first used two complementary approaches to identify new GSB viruses from TBL; one in vitro based on flow cytometry cell sorting, the other in silico based on CRISPR spacer sequences. We then took advantage of existing TBL metagenomes covering the 2005–2018 period to examine the interactions between GSB and their viruses across years and seasons. From our data, GSB populations in TBL were constantly associated with at least 2-8 viruses each, including both lytic and temperate phages. The dominant GSB population in particular was consistently associated with two prophages with a nearly 100% infection rate for >10 years. We illustrate with a theoretical model that such an interaction can be stable given a low, but persistent, level of prophage induction in low-diversity host populations. Overall, our data suggest that lytic and lysogenic viruses can readily co-infect the same host population, and that host strain-level diversity might be an important factor controlling virus-host dynamics including lytic/lysogeny switch. 
    more » « less
  3. Summary

    In the oceans, viruses that infect bacteria (phages) influence a variety of microbially mediated processes that drive global biogeochemical cycles. The nature of their influence is dependent upon infection mode, be it lytic or lysogenic. Temperate phages are predicted to be prevalent in marine systems where they are expected to execute both types of infection modes. Understanding the range and outcomes of temperate phage–host interactions is fundamental for evaluating their ecological impact. Here, we (i) review phage‐mediated rewiring of host metabolism, with a focus on marine systems, (ii) consider the range and nature of temperate phage–host interactions, and (iii) draw on studies of cultivated model systems to examine the consequences of lysogeny among several dominant marine bacterial lineages. We also readdress the prevalence of lysogeny among marine bacteria by probing a collection of 1239 publicly available bacterial genomes, representing cultured and uncultivated strains, for evidence of complete prophages. Our conservative analysis, anticipated to underestimate true prevalence, predicts 18% of the genomes examined contain at least one prophage, the majority (97%) were found within genomes of cultured isolates. These results highlight the need for cultivation of additional model systems to better capture the diversity of temperate phage–host interactions in the oceans.

    more » « less
  4. Imperiale, Michael J. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT The effort to discover novel phages infecting Staphylococcus epidermidis contributes to both the development of phage therapy and the expansion of genome-based phage phylogeny. Here, we report the genome of an S. epidermidis -infecting phage, Lacachita, and compare its genome with those of five other phages with high sequence identity. These phages represent a novel siphovirus genus, which was recently reported in the literature. The published member of this group was favorably evaluated as a phage therapeutic agent, but Lacachita is capable of transducing antibiotic resistance and conferring phage resistance to transduced cells. Members of this genus may be maintained within their host as extrachromosomal plasmid prophages, through stable lysogeny or pseudolysogeny. Therefore, we conclude that Lacachita may be temperate and members of this novel genus are not suitable for phage therapy. IMPORTANCE This project describes the discovery of a culturable bacteriophage infecting Staphylococcus epidermidis that is a member of a rapidly growing novel siphovirus genus. A member of this genus was recently characterized and proposed for phage therapy, as there are few phages currently available to treat S. epidermidis infections. Our data contradict this, as we show Lacachita is capable of moving DNA from one bacterium to another, and it may be capable of maintaining itself in a plasmid-like state in infected cells. These phages’ putative plasmid-like extrachromosomal state appears to be due to a simplified maintenance mechanism found in true plasmids of Staphylococcus and related hosts. We suggest Lacachita and other identified members of this novel genus are not suitable for phage therapy. 
    more » « less
  5. Humbert, Jean-François (Ed.)
    Harmful algal blooms are commonly thought to be dominated by a single genus, but they are not homogenous communities. Current approaches, both molecular and culture-based, often overlook fine-scale variations in community composition that can influence bloom dynamics. We combined homology-based searches (BLASTX) and phylogenetics to distinguish and quantify Microcystis host and phage members across a summer season during a 2014 Microcystis- dominated bloom that occurred in Lake Tai ( Taihu ), China. We found 47 different genotypes of the Microcystis- specific DNA-dependent RNA polymerase ( rpo B), which included several morphospecies. Microcystis flos-aquae and Microcystis wesenbergii accounted for ~86% of total Microcystis transcripts, while the more commonly studied Microcystis aeruginosa only accounted for ~7%. Microcystis genotypes were classified into three temporal groups according to their expression patterns across the course of the bloom: early, constant and late. All Microcystis morphospecies were present in each group, indicating that expression patterns were likely dictated by competition driven by environmental factors, not phylogeny. We identified three primary Microcystis -infecting phages based on the viral terminase, including a novel Siphoviridae phage that may be capable of lysogeny. Within our dataset, Myoviridae phages consistent with those infecting Microcystis in a lytic manner were positively correlated to the early host genotypes, while the Siphoviridae phages were positively correlated to the late host genotypes, when the Myoviridae phages express putative genetic markers for lysogeny. The expression of genes in the microcystin-encoding mcy cassette was estimated using mcyA , which revealed 24 Microcystis- specific genotypes that were negatively correlated to the early host genotypes. Of all environmental factors measured, pH best described the temporal shift in the Microcystis community genotypic composition, promoting hypotheses regarding carbon concentration mechanisms and oxidative stress. Our work expounds on the complexity of HAB events, using a well-studied dataset to highlight the need for increased resolution of community dynamics. 
    more » « less