Species-Scale Genomic Analysis of Staphylococcus aureus Genes Influencing Phage Host Range and Their Relationships to Virulence and Antibiotic Resistance Genes
Phage therapy has been proposed as a possible alternative treatment for infections caused by the ubiquitous bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. However, successful therapy requires understanding the genetic basis of host range—the subset of strains in a species that could be killed by a particular phage. We searched diverse sets of S. aureus public genome sequences against a database of genes suggested from prior studies to influence host range to look for patterns of variation across the species. We found that genes encoding biosynthesis of molecules that were targets of S. aureus phage adsorption to the outer surface of the cell were the most conserved in the pangenome. Putative phage resistance genes that were core components of the pangenome genes had similar nucleotide diversity, ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions, and functionality (measured by delta-bitscore) to other core genes. However, phage resistance genes that were not part of the core genome were significantly less consistent with the core genome phylogeny than all noncore genes in this set, suggesting more frequent movement between strains by horizontal gene transfer. Only superinfection immunity genes encoded by temperate phages inserted in the genome correlated with experimentally determined temperate phage resistance. Taken together, these results suggested that, while phage adsorption genes are heavily conserved in the S. aureus species, HGT may play a significant role in strain-specific evolution of host range patterns.
Moller, A. G., Petit, R. A., 3rd, & Read, T. D. Species-Scale Genomic Analysis of Staphylococcus aureus Genes Influencing Phage Host Range and Their Relationships to Virulence and Antibiotic Resistance Genes. mSystems, e0108321 (2022)