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For viral predators of bacteria, sensitivity can be contagious

10-01-2017

VIDEO: New modes of bacteriophage spread discovered https://youtu.be/YQLvTBCsOtM

Bacteriophages (phages) are probably the most abundant entities in nature, often exceeding bacterial densities by an order of magnitude. As viral predators of bacteria, phages have a major impact on bacterial communities by reducing some bacteria and enabling others to flourish. Phages also occasionally package host DNA and deliver it to other bacteria, in a process known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT).

The biology of phage infection has been extensively studied since the beginning of the 20th century. However, the fate of phages in complex bacterial communities resembling their natural ecosystem has not been studied at the cellular level. To investigate the biology of phage infection in complex bacterial communities, researchers followed phage dynamics in communities harboring phage-resistant (R) and phage-sensitive (S) bacteria, a common scenario in nature.

Now, in new research to be published in the January 12 edition of Cell, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Faculty of Medicine provide the first demonstration of a mechanism by which bacteria entirely resistant to a given phage become susceptible to it upon co-incubation with sensitive bacteria.

The researchers show how phage-sensitive bacteria harboring phage receptor can deliver the receptor to nearby phage-resistant cells that lack the phage receptor, via a molecular transfer they call "acquisition of sensitivity" (ASEN). This process involves a molecular exchange driven by membrane vesicles (MVs), in which phage-resistant cells transiently gain phage attachment molecules released from neighboring phage-sensitive cells. By exploiting this novel delivery system, phages can invade bacteria lacking their receptor.

The researchers further posit that this mechanism enables phages to expand their host range and deliver DNA into new species, thus facilitating the attachment of phages to non-host species, providing an as-yet unexplored route for horizontal gene transfer (HGT).

"In the present study, we show for the first time how bacteria entirely resistant to a given phage become susceptible upon co-incubation with sensitive bacteria. Phage invasion into resistant cells could have a major impact on transfer of antibiotic resistance and virulence genes among bacteria. This aspect should be carefully considered when employing phage therapy, as phage infection of a given species may result in gene transmission into neighboring bacteria resistant to the phage," said Prof. Sigal Ben-Yehuda, who led the research at the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine.

"Our work indicates that, similarly to the remarkable arsenal of entry and spreading strategies employed by viruses, phages utilize alternative, as yet unidentified spreading mechanisms, which could expedite the infection process and promote phage spread within cells of the same and different species," said the PhD student Elhanan Tzipilevich, who carried out this research.

 

 

The 64th Annual Dinner of the Legal Group of the British Friends of the Hebrew University

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Home Instruction for Parents and Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Programme to be Launched in Korea

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08-03-2017

Hebrew University is the First Israeli Academic Institute to Recognize Palestinian Test Results

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02-03-2017

Germany’s Order of Merit Awarded to Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson

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01-03-2017

Do We Look Like Our Names? New Research Says Yes

Study suggests that people 'live up to their name' with their facial appearance

27-02-2017

‘Smart’ bacteria remodel their genes to infect our intestines

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22-02-2017

Israeli and Palestinian Researchers Cooperate to Find Risk Factors for B Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

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19-02-2017

Focus on Lord Pannick, QC, Chairman of BFHU Legal Group

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09-02-2017

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Pope Francis together with Scholas Global Directors meets Hebrew University leaders

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08-02-2017

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Results obtained in a joint trial with Israel Electric Corporation (IEC)

06-02-2017

Science Brings Tomatoes Back Their Good Old Flavour

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05-02-2017

Israel Prize to be Awarded to Hebrew University Prof. Yehuda Liebes

Prof. Liebes, from the Department of Jewish Thought, awarded for his work in Kaballah and Jewish myth

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30-01-2017

Dyslexia Linked to Shorter Memory Trace of Previous Stimuli

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25-01-2017

More Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments Found in the Cave of Skulls

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US and Israeli researchers join forces by applying nanotechnology to cancer research

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10-01-2017

For viral predators of bacteria, sensitivity can be contagious

Bacteriophages (phages) are probably the most abundant entities in nature, often exceeding bacterial densities by an order of magnitude.

10-01-2017

Of Mice and Men: Unique Electrical Properties of Human Nerve Cells Make a Difference

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Addressing War, Crime and Privacy in Cyberspace

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