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Annu Rev Virol. 2014 Nov;1(1):307-31. doi: 10.1146/annurev-virology-031413-085500. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

Remarkable Mechanisms in Microbes to Resist Phage Infections.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; email:
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QW, United Kingdom.


Bacteriophages (phages) specifically infect bacteria and are the most abundant biological entities on Earth. The constant exposure to phage infection imposes a strong selective pressure on bacteria to develop viral resistance strategies that promote prokaryotic survival. Thus, this parasite-host relationship results in an evolutionary arms race of adaptation and counteradaptation between the interacting partners. The evolutionary outcome is a spectrum of remarkable strategies used by the bacteria and phages as they attempt to coexist. These approaches include adsorption inhibition, injection blocking, abortive infection, toxin-antitoxin, and CRISPR-Cas systems. In this review, we highlight the diverse and complementary antiphage systems in bacteria, as well as the evasion mechanisms used by phages to escape these resistance strategies.


Argonaute; CRISPR-Cas; abortive infection; bacteriophages; horizontal gene transfer; phage resistance; toxin-antitoxin

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