Selective isolation of eggerthella lenta from human faeces and characterisation of the species prophage diversity

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Buttimer, Colin
Bottacini, Francesca
Shkoporov, Andrey N.
Draper, Lorraine A.
Ross, R. Paul
Hill, Colin
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Eggerthella lenta is an anaerobic, high GC, Gram-positive bacillus commonly found in the human digestive tract that belongs to the class Coriobacteriia of the phylum Actinobacteria. This species has been of increasing interest as an important player in the metabolism of xenobiotics and dietary compounds. However, little is known regarding its susceptibility to bacteriophage predation and how this may influence its fitness. Here, we report the isolation of seven novel E. lenta strains using cefotaxime and ceftriaxone as selective agents. We conducted comparative and pangenome analyses of these strains and those publicly available to investigate the diversity of prophages associated with this species. Prophage gene products represent a minimum of 5.8% of the E. lenta pangenome, comprising at least ten distantly related prophage clades that display limited homology to currently known bacteriophages. All clades possess genes implicated in virion structure, lysis, lysogeny and, to a limited extent, DNA replication. Some prophages utilise tyrosine recombinases and diversity generating retroelements to generate phase variation among targeted genes. The prophages have differing levels of sensitivity to the CRISPR/cas systems of their hosts, with spacers from 44 E. lenta isolates found to target only five out of the ten identified prophage clades. Furthermore, using a PCR-based approach targeting the prophage attP site, we were able to determine that several of these elements can excise from the host chromosome, thus supporting the notion that these are active prophages. The findings of this study provide further insights into the diversity of prophages infecting species of the phylum Actinobacteria.
Actinobacteria , Eggerthella lenta , Bacterial isolation , Prophage diversity , Diversity generating retroelements
Buttimer, C., Bottacini, F., Shkoporov, A.N., Draper, L.A., Ross, P. and Hill, C. (2022) ‘Selective isolation of eggerthella lenta from human faeces and characterisation of the species prophage diversity’, Microorganisms, 10(1), 195 (25pp). doi: 10.3390/microorganisms10010195
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