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J Bacteriol. 2007 Mar;189(5):2086-100. Epub 2006 Dec 15.

First complete genome sequence of two Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteriophages.

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Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Staphylococcus epidermidis is an important opportunistic pathogen causing nosocomial infections and is often associated with infections in patients with implanted prosthetic devices. A number of virulence determinants have been identified in S. epidermidis, which are typically acquired through horizontal gene transfer. Due to the high recombination potential, bacteriophages play an important role in these transfer events. Knowledge of phage genome sequences provides insights into phage-host biology and evolution. We present the complete genome sequence and a molecular characterization of two S. epidermidis phages, phiPH15 (PH15) and phiCNPH82 (CNPH82). Both phages belonged to the Siphoviridae family and produced stable lysogens. The PH15 and CNPH82 genomes displayed high sequence homology; however, our analyses also revealed important functional differences. The PH15 genome contained two introns, and in vivo splicing of phage mRNAs was demonstrated for both introns. Secondary structures for both introns were also predicted and showed high similarity to those of Streptococcus thermophilus phage 2972 introns. An additional finding was differential superinfection inhibition between the two phages that corresponded with differences in nucleotide sequence and overall gene content within the lysogeny module. We conducted phylogenetic analyses on all known Siphoviridae, which showed PH15 and CNPH82 clustering with Staphylococcus aureus, creating a novel clade within the S. aureus group and providing a higher overall resolution of the siphophage branch of the phage proteomic tree than previous studies. Until now, no S. epidermidis phage genome sequences have been reported in the literature, and thus this study represents the first complete genomic and molecular description of two S. epidermidis phages.

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