A tale of tails: Sialidase is key to success in a model of phage therapy against K1-capsulated Escherichia coli

J. J. Bull, E. R. Vimr, I. J. Molineux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prior studies treating mice infected with Escherichia coli O18:K1:H7 observed that phages requiring the K1 capsule for infection (K1-dep) were superior to capsule-independent (K1-ind) phages. We show that three K1-ind phages all have low fitness when grown on cells in serum whereas fitnesses of four K1-dep phages were high. The difference is serum-specific, as fitnesses in broth overlapped. Sialidase activity was associated with all K1-dep virions tested but no K1-ind virions, a phenotype supported by sequence analyses. Adding endosialidase to cells infected with K1-ind phage increased fitness in serum by enhancing productive infection after adsorption. We propose that virion sialidase activity is the primary determinant of high fitness on cells grown in serum, and thus in a mammalian host. Although the benefit of sialidase is specific to K1-capsulated bacteria, this study may provide a scientific rationale for selecting phages for therapeutic use in many systemic infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalVirology
Volume398
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

Keywords

  • Bacteriophage
  • K1 capsules
  • Phage therapy
  • Sialic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology

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