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Bacteriophage. 2011 Jan;1(1):46-49.

Lysis from without.

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Department of Microbiology; The Ohio State University; Mansfield, OH USA.


In this commentary I consider use of the term "lysis from without" (LO) along with the phenomenon's biological relevance. LO originally described an early bacterial lysis induced by high-multiplicity virion adsorption and that occurs without phage production (here indicated as LO(V)). Notably, this is more than just high phage multiplicities of adsorption leading to bacterial killing. The action on bacteria of exogenously supplied phage lysin, too, has been described as a form of LO (here, LO(L)). LO(V) has been somewhat worked out mechanistically for T4 phages, has been used to elucidate various phage-associated phenomena including discovery of the phage eclipse, may be relevant to phage ecology, and, with resistance to LO (LO(R)), is blocked by certain phage gene products. Speculation as to the impact of LO(V) on phage therapy also is fairly common. Since LO(V) assays are relatively easily performed and not all phages are able to induce LO(V), a phage's potential to lyse bacteria without first infecting should be subject to at least in vitro experimental confirmation before the LO(V) label is applied. The term "abortive infection" may be used more generally to describe non-productive phage infections that kill bacteria.

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