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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Jan;36(1):80-5.

WO bacteriophage transcription in Wolbachia-infected Culex pipiens.

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1
Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, S-225 Agricultural Science Center North, Lexington, KY 40504, USA.

Abstract

Bacteriophages are commonly found in association with free-living bacteria, both as exogenic phages (virions) and as prophages integrated into the bacterial genome. In contrast, the observation of bacteriophages associated with obligate intracellular bacteria has been described infrequently. An exception is provided by Wolbachia endosymbionts, which harbor multiple phage elements that have been designated as WO phage. Wolbachia are maternally inherited bacteria that occur in the cytoplasm of many invertebrates, where they often manipulate host reproduction. Previously, the WO phage orf7 locus and ankyrin repeat-encoding genes have been observed to represent sources of genetic diversity between Wolbachia (wPip) strains infecting mosquitoes of the Culex pipiens complex and have been suggested as potential participants in the reproductive manipulations. We have characterized WO phage associated with multiple Wolbachia-infected Culex strains and an uninfected strain using electron microscopy and RT-PCR. For each strain, different developmental stages were examined for transcription of three WO phage orf7 genes. The results provide evidence for the presence of both actively transcribed virions and inactive prophages. Variable orf7 transcription patterns are observed in comparisons of differing Cx. pipiens strains. Variability includes both mosquito stage-specific and sexually dimorphic orf7 expression patterns. This report provides additional support for the hypothesis that bacteriophages play an important role in Wolbachia and host evolution.

PMID:
16360953
DOI:
10.1016/j.ibmb.2005.11.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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