1887

Abstract

Phase variation (PV) creates phenotypic heterogeneity at high frequencies and in a reversible manner. This phenomenon allows bacteria to adapt to a variety of different environments and selective pressures. In this reversible adaptive process is mediated by mutations in homopolymeric G/C tracts. Many -specific phages are dependent on phase-variable surface structures for successful infection. We previously identified the capsular polysaccharide (CPS) moiety, MeON-GalNAc, as a receptor for phage F336 and showed that phase-variable expression of the transferase for this CPS modification, , and two other phase-variable CPS genes generated phage resistance in Here we investigate the population dynamics of NCTC11168 when exposed to phage F336 using a newly described method – the 28-locus-CJ11168 PV analysis. Dynamic switching was observed in the ON/OFF states of three phase-variable CPS genes, , and , during phage F336 exposure, with the dominant phage-resistant phasotype differing between cultures. Although loss of the phage receptor was predominately observed, several other PV events also led to phage resistance, a phenomenon that increases the chance of phage-resistant subpopulations being present in any growing culture. No other PV genes were affected and exposure to phage F336 resulted in a highly specific response, only selecting for phase variants of , and . In summary, may benefit from modification of the surface in multiple ways to inhibit or reduce phage binding, thereby ensuring the survival of the population when exposed to phages.

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2017-06-01
2019-12-09
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