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J Biosci. 2007 Aug;32(5):979-90.

Subclassification and targeted characterization of prophage-encoded two-component cell lysis cassette.

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  • 1Centre of Excellence in Bioinformatics, School of Biotechnology, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai 625 021, India.


Bacteriophage induced lysis of host bacterial cell is mediated by a two component cell lysis cassette comprised of holin and lysozyme. Prophages are integrated forms of bacteriophages in bacterial genomes providing a repertoire for bacterial evolution. Analysis using the prophage database ( constructed by us showed 47 prophages were associated with putative two component cell lysis genes. These proteins cluster into four different subgroups. In this process, a putative holin (essd) and endolysin (ybcS), encoded by the defective lambdoid prophage DLP12 was found to be similar to two component cell lysis genes in functional bacteriophages like p21 and P1. The holin essd was found to have a characteristic dual start motif with two transmembrane regions and C-terminal charged residues as in class II holins. Expression of a fusion construct of essd in Escherichia coli showed slow growth. However, under appropriate conditions, this protein could be over expressed and purified for structure function studies. The second component of the cell lysis cassette, ybcS, was found to have an N-terminal SAR (Signal Arrest Release) transmembrane domain. The construct of ybcS has been over expressed in E.coli and the purified protein was functional, exhibiting lytic activity against E.coli and Salmonella typhi cell wall substrate. Such targeted sequence- structure-function characterization of proteins encoded by cryptic prophages will help understand the contribution of prophage proteins to bacterial evolution.

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