Bacteriophage-encoded bacterial virulence factors and phage-pathogenicity island interactions

Adv Virus Res. 2012;82:91-118. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-394621-8.00014-5.


The role of bacteriophages as natural vectors for some of the most potent bacterial toxins is well recognized and includes classical type I membrane-acting superantigens, type II pore-forming lysins, and type III exotoxins, such as diphtheria and botulinum toxins. Among Gram-negative pathogens, a novel class of bacterial virulence factors called effector proteins (EPs) are phage encoded among pathovars of Escherichia coli, Shigella spp., and Salmonella enterica. This chapter gives an overview of the different types of virulence factors encoded within phage genomes based on their role in bacterial pathogenesis. It also discusses phage-pathogenicity island interactions uncovered from studies of phage-encoded EPs. A detailed examination of the filamentous phage CTXφ that encodes cholera toxin is given as the sole example to date of a single-stranded DNA phage that encodes a bacterial toxin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / biosynthesis
  • Bacteriophages* / genetics
  • Bacteriophages* / pathogenicity
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / virology*
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Escherichia coli / virology
  • Eukaryotic Cells / microbiology
  • Genomic Islands / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Salmonella enterica / immunology
  • Salmonella enterica / virology
  • Shigella / immunology
  • Shigella / virology
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Virulence / genetics
  • Virulence / immunology
  • Virulence Factors / genetics*
  • Virulence Factors / immunology


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Viral Proteins
  • Virulence Factors