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Virology. 2000 Sep 30;275(2):267-77.

Broad-range bacteriophage resistance in Streptococcus thermophilus by insertional mutagenesis.

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  • 1Nestlé Research Centre, Nestec Ltd., Vers-chez-les-Blanc, Lausanne 26, CH-1000, Switzerland.


Streptococcus thermophilus is a lactic acid bacterium used in industrial milk fermentation. To obtain phage-resistant starters, S. thermophilus strain Sfi1 was submitted to mutagenesis with the thermolabile insertional vector pG(+)host9:ISS1 followed by a challenge with the lytic S. thermophilus phage Sfi19. Vector insertions into four distinct sites led to a phage-resistance phenotype. Three mutants were characterized further. They were protected against the homologous challenging phage and 14 heterologous phages. All three mutants adsorbed phages. No intracellular phage DNA synthesis was observed in mutants R7 and R71, while mutant R24 showed a delayed and diminished phage DNA synthesis compared to the parental Sfi1 strain. In mutant R7 a short deletion occurred next to the insertion site which removed the upstream sequences and the 15 initial codons from orf 394, encoding a likely transmembrane protein. Analogy with other phage systems suggests an involvement of this protein in the phage DNA injection process. In mutant R24 the vector was inserted into orf 269 predicting an oxido-reductase. When the vector sequence was removed via homologous recombination across the duplicated insertion elements, mutant R24 returned to the phage susceptibility of the parental strain. This observation suggested that inactivation of orf 269 was not crucial for the resistance phenotype. A gene encoding a likely restriction subunit of a type I restriction-modification system was located directly downstream of the insertion site in mutant R24. hsdM and hsdS genes encoding the modification and specificity subunits of a type I R-M system and biological evidence for an active R-M system were detected in strain Sfi1, suggesting involvement of a type I R-M system in the resistance phenotype of R24.

Copyright 2000 Academic Press.

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