A super-family of transcriptional activators regulates bacteriophage packaging and lysis in Gram-positive bacteria
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AutorQuiles-Puchalt,Nuria; Angeles Tormo-Mas,Maria; Campoy,Susana; Toledo-Arana,Alejandro; Monedero,Vicente; Lasa,Inigo; Novick,Richard P.; Christie,Gail E.; Penades,Jose R.
The propagation of bacteriophages and other mobile genetic elements requires exploitation of the phage mechanisms involved in virion assembly and DNA packaging. Here, we identified and characterized four different families of phage-encoded proteins that function as activators required for transcription of the late operons (morphogenetic and lysis genes) in a large group of phages infecting Gram-positive bacteria. These regulators constitute a super-family of proteins, here named late transcriptional regulators (Ltr), which share common structural, biochemical and functional characteristics and are unique to this group of phages. They are all small basic proteins, encoded by genes present at the end of the early gene cluster in their respective phage genomes and expressed under cI repressor control. To control expression of the late operon, the Ltr proteins bind to a DNA repeat region situated upstream of the terS gene, activating its transcription. This involves the C-terminal part of the Ltr proteins, which control specificity for the DNA repeat region. Finally, we show that the Ltr proteins are the only phage-encoded proteins required for the activation of the packaging and lysis modules. In summary, we provide evidence that phage packaging and lysis is a conserved mechanism in Siphoviridae infecting a wide variety of Gram-positive bacteria.