, Volume 231, Issue 1, pp 161-168

Molecular characterization of new group A streptococcal bacteriophages containing the gene for streptococcal erythrogenic toxin A (speA)

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Summary

Bacteriophage T12 is the prototype phage carrying the streptococcal erythrogenic toxin A (speA) gene. To examine more closely the phages involved in lysogenic conversion, we examined 300 group A streptococcal strains, and identified and isolated two new phages that carry the speA gene. The molecular sizes of these phage genomes were between 32 and 40 kb, similar to that of phage T12 (35 kb). However, as ascertained by restriction analysis, the physical maps of the new phage genomes were different from phage T12 and from each other. Hybridization analysis also showed that all of these phages were only partially related to one another and the speA gene was always located close to the phage attachment site. Additionally, colony hybridization showed that whereas phage T12 or one of its close relatives is the most common phage associated with the group A streptococci, phage 49 has a much stronger association with the speA gene. A defective phage was also found following pulsed field gel electrophoresis of total phage DNA. This phage appears to be a resident of strain T253c and is found only following induction of a T253c lysogen. Restriction enzyme analysis of the isolated defective phage DNA suggests that it is the source of the submolar amounts of DNA previously found in association with phage T12 digestion patterns. Additionally, the defective phage may serve as the site of integration of the speA gene-carrying phages described above.

Communicated by W. Goebel