Common themes among bacteriophage-encoded virulence factors and diversity among the bacteriophages involved

Trends Microbiol. 2002 Nov;10(11):521-9. doi: 10.1016/s0966-842x(02)02459-9.


There are common themes among bacteriophage-encoded virulence factors, which include the well-characterized bacterial toxins and proteins that alter antigenicity as well as several new classes of bacteriophage-encoded proteins such as superantigens, effectors translocated by a type III secretion system, and proteins required for intracellular survival and host cell attachment. These virulence factors are encoded by a diversity of bacteriophages, members of the viral families Siphoviridae, Podoviridae, Myoviridae and Inoviridae, with some bacteriophages having characteristics of more than one virus family. The location of virulence genes within the bacteriophage genomes is non-random and consistent with an origin via imprecise prophage excision or as either transferable cassettes or integral components of the bacteriophage genome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Adhesion / genetics
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology
  • Bacteriophages / classification*
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neuraminidase / genetics
  • Salmonella enterica / genetics
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / classification*
  • Virulence Factors / genetics*


  • Virulence Factors
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Neuraminidase