Episode Summary

A phage defends its genome against bacterial host defenses by building a wall to keep them out!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Myroides odoratus and M. odoratimimus

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

Parasites and their hosts are constantly in arms races with each other, each thriving best when it acquires new and more effective methods of attack, defenses, defenses against defenses, and so on. Bacterial defenses against viruses that infect them mostly involve cutting up viral genomes, either by the indiscriminate specific-cutting restriction enzymes, or by adaptive, sequence-sensing CRISPR/Cas systems.

Bacteriophages have proteins that can defend against the CRISPR/Cas system, but they mostly require the sacrifice of multiple failed infections before the proteins build up enough to defeat the defense. In this study, a phage is discovered that can immediately defend against all DNA-cutting systems, by constructing a nucleus-like protective compartment inside the host.

Journal Paper

Mendoza SD, Nieweglowska ES, Govindarajan S, Leon LM, Berry JD, Tiwari A, Chaikeeratisak V, Pogliano J, Agard DA, Bondy-Denomy J. 2020. A bacteriophage nucleus-like compartment shields DNA from CRISPR nucleases. Nature 577:244–248.

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