Hybrid phage particles could increase bacterial host range

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Researchers from Tel Aviv University (Israel) have developed hybrid bacteriophage particles that could broaden the range of target bacteria. This could have applications such as delivering DNA into drug-resistant bacteria, enabling their manipulation.

Currently, the major limitation of phage-based therapies is a narrow host-range; research on improving this has previously been limited to lytic phages, as opposed to temperate phages. In this study, published recently in Molecular Cell, the researchers extended range of phage T7, by designing hybrid particles displaying a mixture of phage tail/tail fiber proteins. These hybrids were demonstrated to recognize many types of bacteria, extending DNA transduction to novel phage-restrictive hosts.

In addition to this, the team, led by Udi Qimron (Tel Aviv University), also developed a method to optimize DNA transduction by utilizing an innovative generalizable platform that artificially selected the most efficient phage-tails. They demonstrated their two developments taken together extended and improved the ability of the particles to transduce DNA

These methods could have wide applications, as Qimron explained: “DNA manipulation of pathogens includes sensitization to antibiotics, killing of pathogens, disabling pathogens’ virulence factors and more. We’ve developed a technology that significantly expands DNA delivery into bacterial pathogens. This may indeed be a milestone, because it opens up many opportunities for DNA manipulations of bacteria that were impossible to accomplish before.

“This could pave the way to changing the human microbiome – the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in humans – by replacing virulent bacteria with a-virulent bacteria and replacing antibiotic-resistant bacteria with antibiotic-sensitive bacteria, as well as changing environmental pathogens,

“We have applied for a patent on this technology and are developing products that would use this technology to deliver DNA into bacterial pathogens, rendering them a-virulent and sensitive to antibiotics.”

Sources: Yosef I, Goren MG, Globus R, Molshanski-Mor S &Qimron U. Extending the Host Range of Bacteriophage Particles for DNA Transduction. Mol. Cell. doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2017.04.025 (Epub ahead of print) (2017); www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/afot-ddt061917.php

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