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Microbiology. 2001 Jul;147(Pt 7):1929-1936. doi: 10.1099/00221287-147-7-1929.

Mosaic structure of Shiga-toxin-2-encoding phages isolated from Escherichia coli O157:H7 indicates frequent gene exchange between lambdoid phage genomes.

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Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PO Box 8146 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway1.


Shiga-toxin-2 (stx(2))-encoding bacteriophages were isolated from Norwegian Escherichia coli O157:H7 isolates of cattle and human origin. The phages were characterized by restriction enzyme analysis, hybridization with probes for toxin genes and selected phage DNA such as the P gene, integrase gene and IS1203, and by PCR studies and partial sequencing of selected DNA regions in the integrase to stx(2) region of the phages. The stx(2)-phage-containing bacteria from which inducible phages were detected produced similar amounts of toxin, as shown by a Vero cell assay. The results indicate that the population of stx(2)-carrying phages is heterogeneous, although the phages from epidemiologically linked E. coli O157:H7 isolates were similar. There appears to have been frequent recombination of stx(2) phages with other lambdoid phages.

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