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Mol Microbiol. 1995 Nov;18(4):685-701.

Characterization of Vibrio cholerae bacteriophage K139 and use of a novel mini-transposon to identify a phage-encoded virulence factor.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Temperate bacteriophage K139 was isolated from a Vibrio cholerae O139 isolate and characterized in this study. The phage genome consists of a 35 kbp, double-stranded, linear DNA molecule that circularizes and integrates into the chromosome in a site-specific manner. DNA sequences that cross-hybridize with K139 phage DNA are present in all strains of V. cholerae serogroup O1 of the classical biotype examined and in some strains of the El Tor biotype. Phage K139 produces plaques on El Tor O1 strains that do not carry the K139-related sequences but does not plaque on O139 strains that lack detectable phage DNA. This results suggests that O139 strains arose in part by horizontal gene transfer of the O139 antigen genes into an El Tor O1 strain that harboured a K139 prophage. Consistent with this interpretation, the morphology of K139 phage particles is identical to that displayed by the widely distributed family of O1 phages referred to as 'kappa'. In order to test whether K139 phage is involved in lysogenic conversion of V. cholerae, we constructed a novel mini-transposon, Tn10d-bla, which was designed to produce beta-lactamase fusions to phage-encoded, exported proteins. All Tn10d-bla insertions obtained were closely linked to one location on the K139 phage genome. DNA sequence determination of the fusion joints revealed an open reading frame (ORF1), encoding a gene product of 137 amino acids with a typical N-terminal hydrophobic signal sequence. ORF1 was designated the glo gene (G protein-like ORF) because its amino acid sequence shows similarity to eukaryotic Gs(alpha) protein (34.5% identity over an 81-amino-acid overlap) and its C-terminus displays the consensus motif (CAAX) which is found in many small eukaryotic GTP-binding proteins. LD50 assays with isogenic Glo+ and Glo- K139 lysogens suggest that glo encodes a secreted virulence determinant of V. cholerae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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