Convergent evolution of PICIs-mediated phage interference

Carpena Garcia, Nuria (2016) Convergent evolution of PICIs-mediated phage interference. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Staphylococcal pathogenicity islands (SaPIs), the prototype members of the family of phage inducible chromosomal islands (PICIs), are extremely mobile phage satellites, which are transferred between bacterial hosts after their induction by a helper phage. The intimate relationship between SaPIs and their helper phages is one of the most studied examples of virus satellite interactions in prokaryotic cells. SaPIs encode and disseminate virulence and fitness factors, representing a driving force for bacterial adaptation and pathogenesis. Many SaPIs encode a conserved morphogenetic operon, including a core set of genes whose function allows them to parasitize and exploit the phage life cycle. One of the central mechanisms of this molecular piracy is the specific packaging of the SaPI genomes into reduced sized capsid structures derived from phage proteins. Pac phages were classically thought to be the only phages involved in the mobilisation of phage-mediated virulence genes, including the transfer of SaPIs within related and non-related bacteria.
This study presents the involvement of S. aureus cos phages in the intra- and intergeneric transfer of cos SaPIs for the first time. A novel example of molecular parasitism is shown, by which this newly characterised group of cos SaPIs uses two distinct and complementary mechanisms to take over the helper phage packaging machinery for their own reproduction. SaPIbov5, the prototype of the cos SaPIs, does not encode the characteristic morphogenetic operon found in pac SaPIs. However, cos SaPIs features both pac and cos phage cleavage sequences in their genome, ensuring SaPI packaging in small- and full-sized phage particles, depending on the helper phage. Moreover, cos-site packaging in S. aureus was shown to require the activity of a phage HNH nuclease. The HNH protein functions together with the large terminase subunit, triggering cleavage and melting of the cos-site sequence. In addition, a novel piracy strategy, severely interfering with the helper phage reproduction, was identified in cos SaPIs and characterised. This mechanism of piracy depends on the cos SaPI-encoded ccm gene, which encodes a capsid protein involved in the formation of small phage particles, modifying the assembling process via a scaffolding mechanism. This strategy resembles the ones described for pac SaPIs and represents a remarkable example of convergent evolution. A further convergent mechanism of capsid size-reduction was identified and characterised for the Enterococcus faecalis EfCIV583 pathogenicity island, another member of the PICI family. In this case, the self-encoded CpmE conducts this molecular piracy through a putative scaffolding function. Similar to cos SaPIs, EfCIV583 carries the helper phage cleavage sequence in its genome enabling its mobilisation by the phage terminase complex. The results presented in this thesis show how two examples of non-related members of the PICI family follow the same evolutionary convergent strategy to interfere with their helper phage. These findings could indicate that the described strategies might be widespread among PICIs and implicate a significant impact of PICIs mediated-virulence gene transfer in bacterial evolution and the emergence of pathogenic bacteria.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: interference, horizontal gene transfer, PICIs, molecular parasitism, Intra- and inter-generic transfer, cos phages, S. aureus, capsid morphogenesis, SaPIs, small capsids, bacteriophage resistance, bacteriophage packaging.
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Bacteriology
Supervisor's Name: Penades, Professor Jose R.
Date of Award: 2016
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7799
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2016 11:37
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2016 10:01

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