Transposable Element Insertions into the Escherichia coli Polysialic Acid Gene Cluster Result in Resistance to the K1F Bacteriophage

Kathryn M. Styles, Rebecca K. Locke, Lauren A. Cowley, Aidan T. Brown, Antonia P. Sagona*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Reviewing the genetics underlying the arms race between bacteria and bacteriophages can offer an interesting insight into the development of bacterial resistance and phage co-evolution. This study shows how the natural development of resistances to the K1F bacteriophage, a phage which targets the K1 capsule of pathogenic Escherichia coli, can come about through insertion sequences (IS). Of the K1F resistant mutants isolated, two were of particular interest. The first of these showed full resistance to K1F and was found to have disruptions to kpsE, the product of which is involved in polysialic acid translocation. The second, after showing an initial susceptibility to K1F which then developed to full resistance, had disruptions to neuC, a gene involved in one of the early steps of polysialic acid biosynthesis. Both of these mutations came with a fitness cost and produced considerable phenotypic differences in the completeness and location of the K1 capsule when compared with the wild type. Sequential treatment of these two K1F resistant mutants with T7 resulted in the production of a variety of isolates, many of which showed a renewed susceptibility to K1F, indicating that these insertion sequence mutations are reversible, as well as one isolate that developed resistance to both phages.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02112-21
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • bacteriophage
  • resistance
  • transposable elements
  • insertion sequences
  • IS2
  • evolution
  • genomes
  • host resistance


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