With increasing numbers of 3D structures of bacteriophage components, combined with powerful in silico predictive tools, it has become possible to decipher the structural assembly and associated functionality of phage adhesion devices. Recently, decorations have been reported in the tail and neck passage structures of members of the so-called 936 group of lactococcal siphophages. In the current report, using bioinformatic analysis we identified a conserved carbohydrate binding module (CBM) among many of the virion baseplate Dit components, in addition to the CBM present in the 'classical' receptor binding proteins (RBPs). We observed that, within these so-called 'evolved' Dit proteins, the identified CBMs have structurally conserved folds, yet can be grouped into four distinct classes. We expressed such modules in fusion with GFP, and demonstrated their binding capability to their specific host using fluorescent binding assays with confocal microscopy. We detected evolved Dits in several phages infecting various Gram-positive bacterial species, including mycobacteria. The omnipresence of CBM domains in siphophages indicates their auxiliary role in infection, as they can assist in the specific recognition of and attachment to their host, thus ensuring a highly efficient and specific phage-host adhesion process as a prelude to DNA injection.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.