Alternative Mechanism for Bacteriophage Adsorption to the Motile Bacterium Caulobacter Crescentus

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2D and 3D cryo-electron microscopy, together with adsorption kinetics assays of ϕCb13 and ϕCbK phage-infected Caulobacter crescentus, provides insight into the mechanisms of infection. ϕCb13 and ϕCbK actively interact with the flagellum and subsequently attach to receptors on the cell pole. We present evidence that the first interaction of the phage with the bacterial flagellum takes place through a filament on the phage head. This contact with the flagellum facilitates concentration of phage particles around the receptor (i.e., the pilus portals) on the bacterial cell surface, thereby increasing the likelihood of infection. Phage head filaments have not been well characterized and their function is described here. Phage head filaments may systematically underlie the initial interactions of phages with their hosts in other systems and possibly represent a widespread mechanism of efficient phage propagation.

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Guerrero-Ferreira, R., Viollier, P., Ely, B., Poindexter, J., Georgieva, M., Jensen, G., & Wright, E. (2011). Alternative mechanism for bacteriophage adsorption to the motile bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 108(24), 9963-9968.