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J Appl Microbiol. 2012 Nov;113(5):1001-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2012.05358.x. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Bacteriophage adenine methyltransferase: a life cycle regulator? Modelled using Vibrio harveyi myovirus like.

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Microbiology and Immunology, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld, Australia.


The adenine methyltransferase (DAM) gene methylates GATC sequences that have been demonstrated in various bacteria to be a powerful gene regulator functioning as an epigenetic switch, particularly with virulence gene regulation. However, overproduction of DAM can lead to mutations, giving rise to variability that may be important for adaptation to environmental change. While most bacterial hosts carry a DAM gene, not all bacteriophage carry this gene. Currently, there is no literature regarding the role DAM plays in life cycle regulation of bacteriophage. Vibrio campbellii strain 642 carries the bacteriophage Vibrio harveyi myovirus like (VHML) that has been proven to increase virulence. The complete genome sequence of VHML bacteriophage revealed a putative adenine methyltransferase gene. Using VHML, a new model of phage life cycle regulation, where DAM plays a central role between the lysogenic and lytic states, will be hypothesized. In short, DAM methylates the rha antirepressor gene and once methylation is removed, homologous CI repressor protein becomes repressed and non-functional leading to the switching to the lytic cycle. Greater understanding of life cycle regulation at the genetic level can, in the future, lead to the genesis of chimeric bacteriophage with greater control over their life cycle for their safe use as probiotics within the aquaculture industry.

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