Monday, September 20, 2021

463 - Selectively Stimulating Cell Squatters

Bacteriophages
By Jancheva and Böttcher
2021, JACS 143:8344-8351
CC BY 4.0
This episode: Bacteria produce a compound that causes a phage lurking in the genome of a competing species to wake up and start killing that competitor!

Download Episode (8.2 MB, 12.0 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Zaire ebolavirus

News item

Takeaways
Some bacteriophages infect and immediately destroy their hosts in a burst of new viruses, while others can be stealthier, integrating their genome into the genome of the host and remaining there quietly even over multiple generations of the bacteria. When something stresses the host, such as DNA damage, these integrated phages (prophages) become active and start producing new viruses, killing their host like the other kind does.

In this study, one kind of bacteria release a chemical that wakes up phages in a competitor species of bacteria. This is helpful for competition, but even more interesting is that out of the six prophages in the competitor species, the chemical wakes up only one of them. Such selective phage induction could be interesting to study.

Journal Paper:
Jancheva M, Böttcher T. 2021. A Metabolite of Pseudomonas Triggers Prophage-Selective Lysogenic to Lytic Conversion in Staphylococcus aureus. J Am Chem Soc 143:8344–8351.

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