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J Bacteriol. 2006 Sep;188(17):6101-14.

Genome sequence and global gene expression of Q54, a new phage species linking the 936 and c2 phage species of Lactococcus lactis.

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  • 1Département de biochimie et de microbiologie, Faculté des sciences et de génie, Groupe de recherche en écologie buccale, Felix d'Hérelle Reference Centre for Bacterial Viruses, Université Laval, Québec, Canada G1K 7P4.


The lytic lactococcal phage Q54 was previously isolated from a failed sour cream production. Its complete genomic sequence (26,537 bp) is reported here, and the analysis indicated that it represents a new Lactococcus lactis phage species. A striking feature of phage Q54 is the low level of similarity of its proteome (47 open reading frames) with proteins in databases. A global gene expression study confirmed the presence of two early gene modules in Q54. The unusual configuration of these modules, combined with results of comparative analysis with other lactococcal phage genomes, suggests that one of these modules was acquired through recombination events between c2- and 936-like phages. Proteolytic cleavage and cross-linking of the major capsid protein were demonstrated through structural protein analyses. A programmed translational frameshift between the major tail protein (MTP) and the receptor-binding protein (RBP) was also discovered. A "shifty stop" signal followed by putative secondary structures is likely involved in frameshifting. To our knowledge, this is only the second report of translational frameshifting (+1) in double-stranded DNA bacteriophages and the first case of translational coupling between an MTP and an RBP. Thus, phage Q54 represents a fascinating member of a new species with unusual characteristics that brings new insights into lactococcal phage evolution.

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