Chapter 14 : Bacteriophages Encoding Botulinum and Diphtheria Toxins

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Bacteriophages have long been recognized to harbor genes that encode various classes of virulence factors, including protein toxins. Some classic examples of phage conversion of grampositive hosts to toxinogenesis are the production of diphtheria toxin (DT) in and the production of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) in types C and D of . DT has generally been considered mainly responsible for the gross symptoms of diphtheria, and the lack of genetic systems for has prevented the identification of other virulence factors associated with its pathogenicity. The association of DT with phages provides a classic example of lysogenic conversion, whereby the bacterial cell acquires traits as a consequence of phage infection. has attracted much interest in recent years, largely due to advances in the study of the structure, function, and genetics of the neurotoxins it encodes and in the therapeutic applications of these toxins for the treatment of several neurologic disorders. BoNTs and tetanus neurotoxin (TeNT) act by selectively blocking the neurotransmission of presynaptic nerve terminals in the peripheral and central nervous systems. The characterization of genes for BoNT and associated proteins of the toxin complexes indicated that these genes are located on the chromosome, on pseudolysogenic bacteriophages, or on plasmids, depending on the serotype. Converting and nonconverting phages from types C and D have been isolated and partially characterized.

Citation: Johnson E. 2005. Bacteriophages Encoding Botulinum and Diphtheria Toxins, p 280-296. In Waldor M, Friedman D, Adhya S (ed), Phages. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816506.ch14

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Circular Double-Stranded DNA
Linear Double-Stranded DNA
Bacterial Virulence Factors
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Relationships of bacteriophages and toxins produced by types C and D. Adapted from reference with permission of the publisher.

Citation: Johnson E. 2005. Bacteriophages Encoding Botulinum and Diphtheria Toxins, p 280-296. In Waldor M, Friedman D, Adhya S (ed), Phages. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816506.ch14
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Generic image for table

Properties of neurotoxigenic clostridia

Adapted from references and with permission of the publishers.

Citation: Johnson E. 2005. Bacteriophages Encoding Botulinum and Diphtheria Toxins, p 280-296. In Waldor M, Friedman D, Adhya S (ed), Phages. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816506.ch14

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