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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2004 Dec 15;241(2):171-7.

The coexistence of Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7 and its specific bacteriophage in continuous culture.

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Department of Bioengineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 4259 B41 Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8501, Japan.


For the development of phage therapy, systematic understanding mechanisms of bacteriophage resistance will be required. We describe a new strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7, named Mu(L), which stably co-exists with the O157:H7-specific lytic bacteriophage PP01. Chemostat cultures of E. coli O157:H7 infected with PP01 showed unchanging cell concentration, but phage concentrations which increased by approximately 10(8) PFU mL(-1). However, the latent period, burst size, and growth rate of Mu(L) were the same as in a PP01-susceptible strain. The binding rate of PP01 to the cell surface was diminished 8.5-fold in Mu(L). By observation of the binding of fluorescently labeled O157:H7-specific phage to individual Mu(L) cells, we found that clonal Mu(L) cultures were heterogeneous in their ability to bind bacteriophage. 15% of the Mu(L) population was completely resistant to PP01 infection. Mu(L) also co-existed with bacteriophages unrelated to PP01. Broad-range phage resistance by clonal heterogeneity represents a new class of bacteria-phage interactions.

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