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Chapter 12 : Mycobacteriophages: Pathogenesis and Applications

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Abstract:

It is noteworthy that mycobacteriophages—viruses of mycobacteria—were instrumental in early genetic studies of mycobacteria and have continued to provide useful applications. This chapter focuses on the following three aspects of mycobacteriophage biology: insights into the diversity and evolution of mycobacteriophages gained from recent genomic studies, the possible involvement of mycobacteriophages in mycobacterial pathogenesis, and the numerous applications that have been derived from mycobacteriophage studies, including both genetic and clinical tools. Most selectable markers used in mycobacterial genetics are antibiotic resistance genes. However, there are some concerns regarding the use of these markers that are unique to manipulating mycobacteria. Mycobacteriophages can help to address some of these problems by providing additional genetically selectable markers that are not based on antibiotic selection. A phage-based assay has been developed with the intent of rapid determinations of drug susceptibility profiles that will overcome problems such as the slow growth of the organism that can lead to a difficult decision of whether to delay the treatment of a patient or prescribe an antibiotic regimen that may not be ineffective. Recent genomic studies of mycobacteriophages suggest that we have much to learn about the biology of these viruses. The population appears to be large and diverse, encompassing vast numbers of genes of unknown functions as well as genes that have not previously been observed in phage genomes. These observations raise numerous questions about the nature of the mycobacteriophages, the ways in which they interact with their mycobacterial hosts, and their possible roles in mycobacterial virulence.

Citation: Hatfull G. 2005. Mycobacteriophages: Pathogenesis and Applications, p 238-255. In Waldor M, Friedman D, Adhya S (ed), Phages. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816506.ch12

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FIGURE 1

Mycobacteriophage virion morphologies.The mycobacteriophages Che9c, Bxz1, and Cjw1 are representatives of three different virion morphologies. Most mycobacteriophages have an isometric head and a long flexible tail, as seen in Cjw1.The phages Corndog and Che9c have prolate heads, while Bxz1 and Catera have a larger isometric head and a contractile tail.

Citation: Hatfull G. 2005. Mycobacteriophages: Pathogenesis and Applications, p 238-255. In Waldor M, Friedman D, Adhya S (ed), Phages. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816506.ch12
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Tables

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TABLE 1

Features of 29 sequenced mycobacteriophages

Most of the phage heads are isometric, with a diameter of approximately 60 nm.Two have larger heads (L), with an approximately 80-nm diameter.

Citation: Hatfull G. 2005. Mycobacteriophages: Pathogenesis and Applications, p 238-255. In Waldor M, Friedman D, Adhya S (ed), Phages. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816506.ch12

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