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Open Access Research article

Genomic analysis and relatedness of P2-like phages of the Burkholderia cepacia complex

Karlene H Lynch1, Paul Stothard2 and Jonathan J Dennis1*

Author Affiliations

1 CW405 Biological Sciences Building, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E9, Canada

2 1400 College Plaza, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2C8, Canada

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:599  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-599

Published: 25 October 2010

Abstract

Background

The Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) is comprised of at least seventeen Gram-negative species that cause infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Because BCC bacteria are broadly antibiotic resistant, phage therapy is currently being investigated as a possible alternative treatment for these infections. The purpose of our study was to sequence and characterize three novel BCC-specific phages: KS5 (vB_BceM-KS5 or vB_BmuZ-ATCC 17616), KS14 (vB_BceM-KS14) and KL3 (vB_BamM-KL3 or vB_BceZ-CEP511).

Results

KS5, KS14 and KL3 are myoviruses with the A1 morphotype. The genomes of these phages are between 32317 and 40555 base pairs in length and are predicted to encode between 44 and 52 proteins. These phages have over 50% of their proteins in common with enterobacteria phage P2 and so can be classified as members of the Peduovirinae subfamily and the "P2-like viruses" genus. The BCC phage proteins similar to those encoded by P2 are predominantly structural components involved in virion morphogenesis. As prophages, KS5 and KL3 integrate into an AMP nucleosidase gene and a threonine tRNA gene, respectively. Unlike other P2-like viruses, the KS14 prophage is maintained as a plasmid. The P2 E+E' translational frameshift site is conserved among these three phages and so they are predicted to use frameshifting for expression of two of their tail proteins. The lysBC genes of KS14 and KL3 are similar to those of P2, but in KS5 the organization of these genes suggests that they may have been acquired via horizontal transfer from a phage similar to λ. KS5 contains two sequence elements that are unique among these three phages: an ISBmu2-like insertion sequence and a reverse transcriptase gene. KL3 encodes an EcoRII-C endonuclease/methylase pair and Vsr endonuclease that are predicted to function during the lytic cycle to cleave non-self DNA, protect the phage genome and repair methylation-induced mutations.

Conclusions

KS5, KS14 and KL3 are the first BCC-specific phages to be identified as P2-like. As KS14 has previously been shown to be active against Burkholderia cenocepacia in vivo, genomic characterization of these phages is a crucial first step in the development of these and similar phages for clinical use against the BCC.