Genetic modifications to temperate Enterococcus faecalis phage Ef11 that abolish the establishment of lysogeny and sensitivity to repressor, and increase host range and productivity of lytic infection

Microbiology (Reading). 2013 Jun;159(Pt 6):1023-1035. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.067116-0. Epub 2013 Apr 11.


Ef11 is a temperate bacteriophage originally isolated by induction from a lysogenic Enterococcus faecalis strain recovered from an infected root canal, and the Ef11 prophage is widely disseminated among strains of E. faecalis. Because E. faecalis has emerged as a significant opportunistic human pathogen, we were interested in examining the genes and regulatory sequences predicted to be critical in the establishment/maintenance of lysogeny by Ef11 as a first step in the construction of the genome of a virulent, highly lytic phage that could be used in treating serious E. faecalis infections. Passage of Ef11 in E. faecalis JH2-2 yielded a variant that produced large, extensively spreading plaques in lawns of indicator cells, and elevated phage titres in broth cultures. Genetic analysis of the cloned virus producing the large plaques revealed that the variant was a recombinant between Ef11 and a defective FL1C-like prophage located in the E. faecalis JH2-2 chromosome. The recombinant possessed five ORFs of the defective FL1C-like prophage in place of six ORFs of the Ef11 genome. Deletion of the putative lysogeny gene module (ORFs 31-36) and replacement of the putative cro promoter from the recombinant phage genome with a nisin-inducible promoter resulted in no loss of virus infectivity. The genetic construct incorporating all the aforementioned Ef11 genomic modifications resulted in the generation of a variant that was incapable of lysogeny and insensitive to repressor, rendering it virulent and highly lytic, with a notably extended host range.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Bacteriophages / growth & development*
  • Bacteriophages / physiology
  • Enterococcus faecalis / virology*
  • Host Specificity*
  • Lysogeny*
  • Mutation
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Prophages / genetics
  • Prophages / growth & development
  • Prophages / physiology
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Serial Passage
  • Viral Plaque Assay