Bacteriophage K139 was recently characterized as a temperate phage of O1 Vibrio cholerae. In this study we have determined the phage adsorption site on the bacterial cell surface. Phage-binding studies with purified lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of different O1 serotypes and biotypes revealed that the O1 antigen serves as the phage receptor. In addition, phage-resistant O1 El Tor strains were screened by using a virulent isolate of phage K139. Analysis of the LPS of such spontaneous phage-resistant mutants revealed that most of them synthesize incomplete LPS molecules, composed of either defective O1 antigen or core oligosaccharide. By applying phage-binding studies, it was possible to distinguish between receptor mutants and mutations which probably caused abortion of later steps of phage infection. Furthermore, we investigated the genetic nature of O1-negative strains by Southern hybridization with probes specific for the O antigen biosynthesis cluster (rfb region). Two of the investigated O1 antigen-negative mutants revealed insertions of element IS1004 into the rfb gene cluster. Treating one wbeW::IS1004 serum-sensitive mutant with normal human serum, we found that several survivors showed precise excision of IS1004, restoring O antigen biosynthesis and serum resistance. Investigation of clinical isolates by screening for phage resistance and performing LPS analysis of nonlysogenic strains led to the identification of a strain with decreased O1 antigen presentation. This strain had a significant reduction in its ability to colonize the mouse small intestine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology