Microbial virulence is known to emerge by horizontal gene transfer mechanisms. Here we describe the discovery of a novel filamentous prophage, designated CUS-1, which is integrated into the chromosomal dif homologue of the high-virulence clone Escherichia coli O18:K1:H7. An homologous chromosomal element (CUS-2) in Yersinia pestis biovar orientalis is integrated at the same relative location as CUS-1; both lysogenic E. coli and Y. pestis strains produce particles with properties expected of single-stranded DNA virions. CUSΦ is epidemiologically correlated with the emergence of K1 strains with increased virulence and with the Y. pestis biovar responsible for the current (third) plague pandemic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology