The anti-immunity system of phage-plasmid N15: identification of the antirepressor gene and its control by a small processed RNA

Mol Microbiol. 1999 Dec;34(5):980-94. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1999.01658.x.


N15 is a temperate virus of Escherichia coli related to lambdoid phages. However, unlike all other known phages, the N15 prophage is maintained as a low copy number linear DNA molecule with covalently closed ends. The primary immunity system at the immB locus is structurally and functionally comparable to that of lambdoid phages, and encodes the immunity repressor CB. We have characterized a second locus, immA, in which clear plaque mutations were mapped, and found that it encodes an anti-immunity system involved in the choice between the lytic and the lysogenic cycle. Three open reading frames at the immA locus encode an inhibitor of cell division (icd ), an antirepressor (antA) and a gene that may play an ancillary role in anti-immunity (antB ). These genes may be transcribed from two promoters: the upstream promoter Pa is repressed by the immunity repressor CB, whereas the downstream promoter Pb is constitutive. Full repression of the anti-immunity system is achieved by premature transcription termination elicited by a small RNA (CA RNA) produced by processing of the leader transcript of the anti-immunity operon. The N15 anti-immunity system is structurally and functionally similar to the anti-immunity system of bacteriophage P1 and to the immunity system of satellite phage P4.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Cycle Proteins*
  • Coliphages / genetics
  • Coliphages / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / virology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • Lysogeny
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Operon / genetics
  • Plasmids* / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / physiology


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF064539