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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2013 Oct;11(10):675-87. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3096. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

Revenge of the phages: defeating bacterial defences.

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Département de Biochimie, Microbiologie et Bio-informatique, Faculté des Sciences et de Génie, Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Buccale, Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Félix d'Hérelle Reference Center for Bacterial Viruses, Université Laval, Québec City, Québec G1V 0A6, Canada.


Bacteria and their viral predators (bacteriophages) are locked in a constant battle. In order to proliferate in phage-rich environments, bacteria have an impressive arsenal of defence mechanisms, and in response, phages have evolved counter-strategies to evade these antiviral systems. In this Review, we describe the various tactics that are used by phages to overcome bacterial resistance mechanisms, including adsorption inhibition, restriction-modification, CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated proteins) systems and abortive infection. Furthermore, we consider how these observations have enhanced our knowledge of phage biology, evolution and phage-host interactions.

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