Temperate Siphoviridae from an evolutionarily related branch of low GC content gram-positive bacteria share a common genetic organization of lysogeny-related genes and the predicted proteins are linked by many sequence similarities. Their compact lysogeny modules [integrase/1-2 orfs (phage exclusion? and metalloproteinase motif proteins)/cI-like repressor/cro-like repressor/antirepressor (optional)] differ clearly from that of lambda-like and L5-like viruses, the two currently established genera of temperate Siphoviridae, while they resemble those of the P2-like genus of Myoviridae. In all known temperate Siphoviridae from low GC content gram-positive bacteria the lysogeny module is flanked by the lysis module and the DNA replication module. This modular organization is again distinct from that of the known genera of temperate Siphoviridae. On the basis of comparative sequence analysis we propose a new genus of Siphoviridae: "Sfi21-like" phages. With a larger database of phage sequences it might be possible to establish a genomics-based phage taxonomy and to retrace the evolutionary history of selected phage modules or individual phage genes. The antirepressor of Sfi21-like phages has an unusual widespread distribution since proteins with high aa similarity (40%) were found not only in phages from gram-negative bacteria, but also in insect viruses.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.