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Cangene Gold Medal Award Lecture — Genomic analysis and modification of Burkholderia cepacia complex bacteriophages

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Abstract:

The Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) is a group of 17 Gram-negative predominantly environmental bacterial species that cause potentially fatal opportunistic infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Although its prevalence in these individuals is lower than that of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the Bcc remains a serious problem in the CF community because of the pathogenicity, transmissibility, and inherent antibiotic resistance of these organisms. An alternative treatment for Bcc infections that is currently being developed is phage therapy, the clinical use of viruses that infect bacteria. To assess the suitability of individual phage isolates for therapeutic use, the complete genome sequences of a panel of Bcc‐specific phages were determined and analyzed. These sequences encode a broad range of proteins with a gradient of relatedness to phage and bacterial gene products from Burkholderia and other genera. The majority of these phages were found not to encode virulence factors, and despite their predominantly temperate nature, a proof-of-principle experiment has shown that they may be modified to a lytic form. Both the genomic characterization and subsequent engineering of Bcc‐specific phages are fundamental to the development of an effective phage therapy strategy for these bacteria.
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  • Published since 1954, this monthly journal contains new research in the field of microbiology including applied microbiology and biotechnology; microbial structure and function; fungi and other eucaryotic protists; infection and immunity; microbial ecology; physiology, metabolism and enzymology; and virology, genetics, and molecular biology. It also publishes review articles and notes on an occasional basis, contributed by recognized scientists worldwide.
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