Novel organization of genes involved in prophage excision identified in the temperate lactococcal bacteriophage TP901-1.

Anne Breuner, Lone Brøndsted, Karin Hammer

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    In this work, the phage-encoded proteins involved in site-specific excision of the prophage genome of the temperate lactococcal bacteriophage TP901-1 were identified. The phage integrase is required for the process, and a low but significant frequency of excision is observed when the integrase is the only phage protein present. However, 100% excision is observed when the phage protein Orf7 is provided as well as the integrase. Thus, Orf7 is the TP901-1 excisionase, and it is the first excisionase identified that is used during excisive recombination catalyzed by an integrase belonging to the family of extended resolvases. Orf7 is a basic protein of 64 amino acids, and the corresponding gene (orf7) is the third gene in the early lytic operon. This location of an excisionase gene of a temperate bacteriophage has never been described before. The experiments are based on in vivo excision of specifically designed excision vectors carrying the TP901-1 attP site which are integrated into attB on the chromosome of Lactococcus lactis. Excision of the vectors was investigated in the presence of different TP901-1 genes. In order to detect very low frequencies of excision, a method for positive selection of loss of genetic material based upon the upp gene (encoding uracil phosphoribosyltransferase) was designed, since upp mutants are resistant to fluorouracil. By using this system, frequencies of excision on the order of 10(-5) per cell could easily be measured. The described selection principle may be of general use for many organisms and also for types of deletion events other than excision.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Bacteriology
    Issue number23
    Pages (from-to)7291-7297
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

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