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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2010;64:331-56. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.112408.134233.

Mycobacteriophages: genes and genomes.

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Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


Viruses are powerful tools for investigating and manipulating their hosts, but the enormous size and amazing genetic diversity of the bacteriophage population have emerged as something of a surprise. In light of the evident importance of mycobacteria to human health--especially Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis--and the difficulties that have plagued their genetic manipulation, mycobacteriophages are especially appealing subjects for discovery, genomic characterization, and manipulation. With more than 70 complete genome sequences available, the mycobacteriophages have provided a wealth of information on the diversity of phages that infect a common bacterial host, revealed the pervasively mosaic nature of phage genome architectures, and identified a huge number of genes of unknown function. Mycobacteriophages have provided key tools for tuberculosis genetics, and new methods for simple construction of mycobacteriophage recombinants will facilitate postgenomic explorations into mycobacteriophage biology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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