DNA sequence heterogeneity of Campylobacter jejuni CJIE4 prophages and expression of prophage genes

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Campylobacter jejuni carry temperate bacteriophages that can affect the biology or virulence of the host bacterium. Known effects include genomic rearrangements and resistance to DNA transformation. C. jejuni prophage CJIE1 shows sequence variability and variability in the content of morons. Homologs of the CJIE1 prophage enhance both adherence and invasion to cells in culture and increase the expression of a specific subset of bacterial genes. Other C. jejuni temperate phages have so far not been well characterized. In this study we describe investigations into the DNA sequence variability and protein expression in a second prophage, CJIE4. CJIE4 sequences were obtained de novo from DNA sequencing of five C. jejuni isolates, as well as from whole genome sequences submitted to GenBank by other research groups. These CJIE4 DNA sequences were heterogenous, with several different insertions/deletions (indels) in different parts of the prophage genome. Two variants of a 3-4 kb region inserted within CJIE4 had different gene content that distinguished two major conserved CJIE4 prophage families. Additional indels were detected throughout the prophage. Detection of proteins in the five isolates characterized in our laboratory in isobaric Tags for Relative and Absolute Quantitation (iTRAQ) experiments indicated that prophage proteins within each of the two large indel variants were expressed during growth of the bacteria on Mueller Hinton agar plates. These proteins included the extracellular DNase associated with resistance to DNA transformation and prophage repressor proteins. Other proteins associated with known or suspected roles in prophage biology were also expressed from CJIE4, including capsid protein, the phage integrase, and MazF, a type II toxin-antitoxin system protein. Together with the results previously obtained for the CJIE1 prophage these results demonstrate that sequence variability and expression of moron genes are both general properties of temperate bacteriophages in C. jejuni.




Clark, C. G., Chong, P. M., McCorrister, S. J., Mabon, P., Walker, M., & Westmacott, G. R. (2014). DNA sequence heterogeneity of Campylobacter jejuni CJIE4 prophages and expression of prophage genes. PLoS ONE, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095349

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