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Comparative genomic analysis of ten Streptococcus pneumoniae temperate bacteriophages.

journal contribution
posted on 01.08.2009, 00:00 authored by Patricia Romero, Nicholas J. Croucher, Natalia HillerNatalia Hiller, Fen Z. Hu, Garth D. Ehrlich, Stephen D. Bentley, Ernesto García, Tim J. Mitchell

Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important human pathogen that often carries temperate bacteriophages. As part of a program to characterize the genetic makeup of prophages associated with clinical strains and to assess the potential roles that they play in the biology and pathogenesis in their host, we performed comparative genomic analysis of 10 temperate pneumococcal phages. All of the genomes are organized into five major gene clusters: lysogeny, replication, packaging, morphogenesis, and lysis clusters. All of the phage particles observed showed a Siphoviridae morphology. The only genes that are well conserved in all the genomes studied are those involved in the integration and the lysis of the host in addition to two genes, of unknown function, within the replication module. We observed that a high percentage of the open reading frames contained no similarities to any sequences catalogued in public databases; however, genes that were homologous to known phage virulence genes, including the pblB gene of Streptococcus mitis and the vapE gene of Dichelobacter nodosus, were also identified. Interestingly, bioinformatic tools showed the presence of a toxin-antitoxin system in the phage phiSpn_6, and this represents the first time that an addition system in a pneumophage has been identified. Collectively, the temperate pneumophages contain a diverse set of genes with various levels of similarity among them.