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AbiQ, an abortive infection mechanism from Lactococcus lactis

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Walker, Shirley A.
Vedamuthu, Ebenezer R.
Kondo, Jeffrey K.

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American Society of Microbiology

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Lactococcus lactis W-37 is highly resistant to phage infection. The cryptic plasmids from this strain were coelectroporated, along with the shuttle vector pSA3, into the plasmid-free host L. lactis LM0230. In addition to pSA3, erythromycin- and phage-resistant isolates carried pSRQ900, an 11-kb plasmid from L. lactis W-37. This plasmid made the host bacteria highly resistant (efficiency of plaquing <10(-8)) to c2- and 936-like phages. pSRQ900 did not confer any resistance to phages of the P335 species. Adsorption, cell survival, and endonucleolytic activity assays showed that pSRQ900 encodes an abortive infection mechanism. The phage resistance mechanism is limited to a 2.2-kb EcoRV/BclI fragment. Sequence analysis of this fragment revealed a complete open reading frame (abiQ), which encodes a putative protein of 183 amino acids. A frameshift mutation within abiQ completely abolished the resistant phenotype. The predicted peptide has a high content of positively charged residues (pI = 10.5) and is, in all likelihood, a cytosolic protein. AbiQ has no homology to known or deduced proteins in the databases. DNA replication assays showed that phage c21 (c2-like) and phage p2 (936-like) can still replicate in cells harboring AbiQ. However, phage DNA accumulated in its concatenated form in the infected AbiQ+ cells, whereas the AbiQ- cells contained processed (mature) phage DNA in addition to the concatenated form. The production of the major capsid protein of phage c21 was not hindered in the cells harboring AbiQ.



Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 64 (12), 4748-4756 (1998)



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