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J Bacteriol. Oct 1991; 173(20): 6507–6514.
PMCID: PMC208987

Genes 1.2 and 10 of bacteriophages T3 and T7 determine the permeability lesions observed in infected cells of Escherichia coli expressing the F plasmid gene pifA.


Infections of F plasmid-containing strains of Escherichia coli by bacteriophage T7 result in membrane damage that allows nucleotides to exude from the infected cell into the culture medium. Only pifA of the F pif operon is necessary for "leakiness" of the T7-infected cell. Expression of either T7 gene 1.2 or gene 10 is sufficient to cause leakiness, since infections by phage containing null mutations in both of these genes do not result in permeability changes of the F-containing cell. Even in the absence of phage infection, expression from plasmids of either gene 1.2 or 10 can cause permeability changes, particularly of F plasmid-containing cells. In contrast, gene 1.2 of the related bacteriophage T3 prevents leakiness of the infected cell. In the absence of T3 gene 1.2 function, expression of gene 10 causes membrane damage that allows nucleotides to leak from the cell. Genes 1.2 and 10 of both T3 and T7 are the two genes involved in determining resistance or sensitivity to F exclusion; F exclusion and leakiness of the phage-infected cell are therefore closely related phenomena. However, since leakiness of the infected cell does not necessarily result in phage exclusion, it cannot be used as a predictor of an abortive infection.

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Selected References

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