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Virology. 2004 Nov 24;329(2):425-33.

An orthologue of the cor gene is involved in the exclusion of temperate lambdoid phages. Evidence that Cor inactivates FhuA receptor functions.

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Departamento de Biología Celular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN, Apartado Postal 14-740, México D. F. 07000, México.


A new set of lambdoid phages (mEp) classified into different immunity groups was previously described. Phages mEp213, mEp237, and mEp410 were unable to grow in mEp167 lysogenic cells, presumably due to an exclusion mechanism expressed constitutively by the mEp167 repressed prophage. In this work, to analyze the exclusion phenomenon, we constructed a genomic library from mEp167 phage in a pPROEX derivative plasmid. A DNA fragment containing an open reading frame for a 77 amino acid polypeptide was selected by its ability to confer resistance to heteroimmune phage infection. This ORF shows high amino acid sequence identity with putative Cor proteins of phages HK022, phi80 and N15. Cells expressing the mEp167 cor gene from a plasmid (Cor(+) phenotype) excluded 13 of 20 phages from different infection immunity groups. This exclusion was observed in both tonB(-) and tonB(+) cells. Lambdoid mEp phages that were excluded in these cells were unable to infect cells defective in the outer membrane FhuA receptor (fhuA(-)). Thus, Cor-mediated exclusion was only observed in fhuA(+) cells. Phage production after DNA transfection or the spontaneous induction of mEp prophage in Cor(+) cells was not blocked. In addition, ferrichrome uptake, which is mediated by FhuA, was inhibited in Cor(+) cells. Our results show that not only phage infection via FhuA but also a FhuA transport activity (ferrichrome uptake) are inhibited by Cor, presumably by inactivation of FhuA.

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