Genetic Characterization of Single-Stranded RNA Phage Lysis Genes
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With an ever-increasing incidence of antibiotic resistance in clinical settings, bacterial viruses, or “phages”, are being considered as alternatives to chemical antibiotics. One type of phage in particular, single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) phages, are of interest because they have single gene lysis systems, meaning they employ one gene that, when expressed, causes the host cell to lyse. There are four paradigm single gene lysis systems: L from ssRNA phage MS2, A2 from ssRNA phage Qβ, E from single-stranded DNA phage ϕX174, and Lys from ssRNA phage M. While the mechanism of L is still unknown, lysis proteins A2, E, and Lys have been shown to inhibit steps in peptidoglycan biosynthesis. It is highly likely that lysis proteins from other ssRNA phages also target this pathway. Previously, however, only fourteen single-stranded RNA phages were known. Two separate papers published within the past year have identified over 150 novel ssRNA phage genomes by mining transcriptome and microbiome data (2, 3). The goal of this project is to identify and test potential lysis genes from these genomes and determine the targets of their lysis proteins. Understanding the mechanisms of these novel lysis proteins would potentially allow us to find new antibiotic targets or even develop new antibiotic strategies.
Tran, Jennifer S (2018). Genetic Characterization of Single-Stranded RNA Phage Lysis Genes. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from