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BMC Microbiol. 2007 Aug 31;7:82.

Global analysis of host response to induction of a latent bacteriophage.

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Department of Bioengineering and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

Erratum in

  • BMC Microbiol. 2013;13:183.



The transition from viral latency to lytic growth involves complex interactions among host and viral factors, and the extent to which host physiology is buffered from the virus during induction of lysis is not known. A reasonable hypothesis is that the virus should be evolutionarily selected to ensure host health throughout induction to minimize its chance of reproductive failure. To address this question, we collected transcriptional profiles of Escherichia coli and bacteriophage lambda throughout lysogenic induction by UV light.


We observed a temporally coordinated program of phage gene expression, with distinct early, middle and late transcriptional classes. Our study confirmed known host-phage interactions of induction of the heat shock regulon, escape replication, and suppression of genes involved in cell division and initiation of replication. We identified 728 E. coli genes responsive to prophage induction, which included pleiotropic stress response pathways, the Arc and Cpx regulons, and global regulators crp and lrp. Several hundred genes involved in central metabolism, energy metabolism, translation and transport were down-regulated late in induction. Though statistically significant, most of the changes in these genes were mild, with only 140 genes showing greater than two-fold change.


Overall, we observe that prophage induction has a surprisingly low impact on host physiology. This study provides the first global dynamic picture of how host processes respond to lambda phage induction.

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