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Open Access Research article

Genome sequences characterizing five mutations in RNA polymerase and major capsid of phages ϕA318 and ϕAs51 of Vibrio alginolyticus with different burst efficiencies

Wangta Liu2, Ying-Rong Lin1, Ming-Wei Lu3, Ping-Jyun Sung4, Wei-Hsien Wang14 and Chan-Shing Lin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Marine Biotechnology and Resources, Asia-Pacific Ocean Research Center, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung 80424, Taiwan

2 Department of Biotechnology, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

3 Department of Aquaculture, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung, Taiwan

4 National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, Pingtung 944, Taiwan

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:505  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-505

Published: 21 June 2014



The burst size of a phage is important prior to phage therapy and probiotic usage. The efficiency for a phage to burst its host bacterium can result from molecular domino effects of the phage gene expressions which dominate to control host machinery after infection. We found two Podoviridae phages, ϕA318 and ϕAs51, burst a common host V. alginolyticus with different efficiencies of 72 and 10 PFU/bacterium, respectively. Presumably, the genome sequences can be compared to explain their differences in burst sizes.


Among genes in 42.5 kb genomes with a GC content of 43.5%, 16 out of 47 open-reading frames (ORFs) were annotated to known functions, including RNA polymerase (RNAP) and phage structure proteins. 11 strong phage promoters and three terminators were found. The consensus sequence for the new vibriophage promoters is AATAAAGTTGCCCTATA, where the AGTTG bases of −8 through −12 are important for the vibriophage specificity, especially a consensus T at −9 position eliminating RNAP of K1E, T7 and SP6 phages to transcribe the genes. ϕA318 and ϕAs51 RNAP shared their own specific promoters. In comparing ϕAs51 with ϕA318 genomes, only two nucleotides were deleted in the RNAP gene and three mutating nucleotides were found in the major capsid genes.


Subtle analyses on the residue alterations uncovered the effects of five nucleotide mutations on the functions of the RNAP and capsid proteins, which account for the host-bursting efficiency. The deletion of two nucleotides in RNAP gene truncates the primary translation due to early stop codon, while a second translational peptide starting from GTG just at deletion point can remediate the polymerase activity. Out of three nucleotide mutations in major capsid gene, H53N mutation weakens the subunit assembly between capsomeres for the phage head; E313K reduces the fold binding between β-sheet and Spine Helix inside the peptide.

RNA polymerase truncation; Spine Helix; Mutation in F-loop