Monday, April 4, 2022

469 - Prophage Provides Partial Protection

Salmonella invading cells
This episode: A virus lurking in a bacterial genome protects its host population from infection with other phages, by killing off infected cells!

Download Episode (7.6 MB, 11.0 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Olive latent ringspot virus

Takeaways
Many bacteriophages just go in and gobble up all their host's resources to make a bunch of new viruses right away. Others play a longer game, splicing into and lurking in the host's genome across multiple generations until conditions are right to multiply more rapidly. It is beneficial to these latter kind when their host is resistant to the fast-killing variety, but how can bacteria be resistant to some phages but not others?

In this study, one prophage (the phage genome integrated into the bacterial genome) carries a gene that does this in an interesting way. It prevents invading phages from replicating and kills the host cell so the infection can't spread, protecting the population (and all the other cells containing the prophage). It also contains an immunity element that allows the prophage to replicate itself without interference.

Journal Paper:
Owen SV, Wenner N, Dulberger CL, Rodwell EV, Bowers-Barnard A, Quinones-Olvera N, Rigden DJ, Rubin EJ, Garner EC, Baym M, Hinton JCD. 2021. Prophages encode phage-defense systems with cognate self-immunity. Cell Host Microbe 29:1620-1633.e8.

Other interesting stories:

Post questions or comments here or email to bacteriofiles@gmail.com. Thanks for listening!

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Monday, February 28, 2022

468 - Commensal Can Kill Cholera

Vibrio cholerae
This episode: Harmless gut microbes resist cholera with good defense or better offense!

Download Episode (5.8 MB, 8.4 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Streptomyces corchorusii

News item

Takeaways
The community of microbes in our guts is highly diverse, yet generally they all coexist relatively peacefully. Some pathogens can invade this community and cause massive disruptions. Cholera is a disease caused by a pathogen that injects its competing bacteria with toxins and disrupts the health of the gut, leading to very watery diarrhea that can quickly dehydrate victims.

This study found that some microbes commonly found harmlessly existing in the gut can resist destruction by the cholera pathogen. One of these resists by striking back with its own toxin injection system; the other creates a barrier of slime around itself that keeps the invader's toxins from reaching it. Such resistant gut microbes could help to reduce the threat of diseases such as cholera.

Journal Paper:
Flaugnatti N, Isaac S, Lemos Rocha LF, Stutzmann S, Rendueles O, Stoudmann C, Vesel N, Garcia-Garcera M, Buffet A, Sana TG, Rocha EPC, Blokesch M. 2021. Human commensal gut Proteobacteria withstand type VI secretion attacks through immunity protein-independent mechanisms. Nat Commun 12:5751.

Other interesting stories:

Post questions or comments here or email to bacteriofiles@gmail.com. Thanks for listening!

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Android, or RSS. Support the show at Patreon, or check out the show at Twitter or Facebook.