A comparative genomics approach for identifying host-range determinants in Streptococcus thermophilus bacteriophages

Paula Szymczak, Martin Holm Rau, João M. Monteiro, Mariana G. Pinho, Sérgio Raposo Filipe, Finn Kvist Vogensen, Ahmad A. Zeidan, Thomas Janzen

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Abstract

Comparative genomics has proven useful in exploring the biodiversity of phages and understanding phage-host interactions. This knowledge is particularly useful for phages infecting Streptococcus thermophilus, as they constitute a constant threat during dairy fermentations. Here, we explore the genetic diversity of S. thermophilus phages to identify genetic determinants with a signature for host specificity, which could be linked to the bacterial receptor genotype. A comparative genomic analysis was performed on 142 S. thermophilus phage genomes, 55 of which were sequenced in this study. Effectively, 94 phages were assigned to the group cos (DT1), 36 to the group pac (O1205), six to the group 5093, and six to the group 987. The core genome-based phylogeny of phages from the two dominating groups and their receptor binding protein (RBP) phylogeny corresponded to the phage host-range. A role of RBP in host recognition was confirmed by constructing a fluorescent derivative of the RBP of phage CHPC951, followed by studying the binding of the protein to the host strain. Furthermore, the RBP phylogeny of the cos group was found to correlate with the host genotype of the exocellular polysaccharide-encoding operon. These findings provide novel insights towards developing strategies to combat phage infections in dairies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7991
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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    Szymczak, P., Rau, M. H., Monteiro, J. M., Pinho, M. G., Filipe, S. R., Vogensen, F. K., Zeidan, A. A., & Janzen, T. (2019). A comparative genomics approach for identifying host-range determinants in Streptococcus thermophilus bacteriophages. Scientific Reports, 9(1), [7991]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44481-z