Single mutations in a gene for a tail fiber component of an Escherichia coli phage can cause an extension from a protein to a carbohydrate as a receptor.


Journal Article

The T-even type Escherichia coli phage Ox2 recognizes the outer membrane protein OmpA as a receptor. This recognition is accomplished by the 266 residue protein 38, which is located at the free ends of the virion's long tail fibers. Host-range mutants had been isolated in three consecutive steps: Ox2----Ox2h5----Ox2h10----Ox2h12, with Ox2h12 recognizing the outer membrane protein OmpC efficiently and having lost some affinity for OmpA. Protein 38 consists, in comparison with these proteins of other phages, of two constant and one contiguous array of four hypervariable regions; the alterations leading to Ox2h12 were all found within the latter area. Starting with Ox2h12, further host-range mutants could be isolated on strains resistant to the respective phage: Ox2h12----h12h1----h12h1.1----h12h1.11----h12 h1.111. It was found that Ox2h12h1.1 (and a derivative of Ox2h10, h10h4) probably uses, instead of OmpA or OmpC, yet another outer membrane protein, designated OmpX. Ox2h12h1.11 was obtained on a strain lacking OmpA, -C and -X. This phage could not grow on a mutant of E. coli B, possessing a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with a defective core oligosaccharide; Ox2h12h1.111 was obtained from this strain. It turned out that the latter two mutants used LPS as a receptor, most likely via its glucose residues. Selection for resistance to them in E. coli B (ompA+, ompC-, ompX-) yielded exclusively LPS mutants, and in another strain, possessing OmpA, C and X, the majority of resistant mutants were of this type. Isolated LPS inactivated the mutant phages very well and was inactive towards Ox2h12. By recombining the genes of mutant phages into the genome of parental phages it could be shown that the phenotypes were associated with gene 38. All mutant alterations (mostly single amino acid substitutions) were found within the hypervariable regions of protein 38. In particular, a substitution leading to Ox2h12h1.11 (Arg170----Ser) had occurred at the same site that led to Ox2h10 (His170----Arg), which binds to OmpC in addition to OmpA. It is concluded that not only can protein 38 gain the ability to switch from a protein to a carbohydrate as a receptor but can do so using the same domain of the polypeptide.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Drexler, K; Dannull, J; Hindennach, I; Mutschler, B; Henning, U

Published Date

  • June 1991

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 219 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 655 - 663

PubMed ID

  • 1829115

Pubmed Central ID

  • 1829115

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1089-8638

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-2836

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/0022-2836(91)90662-p


  • eng