Comparative genomics of Shiga toxin encoding bacteriophages

Darren Smith, David Rooks, Paul Fogg, Alistair Darby, Nicholas Thomson, Alan McCarthy, Heather Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Background Stx bacteriophages are responsible for driving the dissemination of Stx toxin genes (stx) across their bacterial host range. Lysogens carrying Stx phages can cause severe, lifethreatening disease and Stx toxin is an integral virulence factor. The Stx-bacteriophage vB_EcoP-24B, commonly referred to as 24B, is capable of multiply infecting a single bacterial host cell at a high frequency, with secondary infection increasing the rate at which subsequent bacteriophage infections can occur. This is biologically unusual, therefore determining the genomic content and context of 24B compared to other lambdoid Stx phages is important to understanding the factors controlling this phenomenon and determining whether they occur in other Stx phages. Results The genome of the Stx2 encoding phage, 24B was sequenced and annotated. The genomic organisation and general features are similar to other sequenced Stx bacteriophages induced from Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), however 24B possesses significant regions of heterogeneity, with implications for phage biology and behaviour. The 24B genome was compared to other sequenced Stx phages and the archetypal lambdoid phage, lambda, using the Circos genome comparison tool and a PCR-based multi-loci comparison system. Conclusions The data support the hypothesis that Stx phages are mosaic, and recombination events between the host, phages and their remnants within the same infected bacterial cell will continue to drive the evolution of Stx phage variants and the subsequent dissemination of shigatoxigenic potential
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2012


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