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Cross-kingdom communication led to a breakthrough phage therapy

 

Princeton molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler and graduate student Justin Silpe have identified a virus, VP882, that can listen in on bacterial conversations - and then they found a way to use that to make it attack bacterial diseases like E. coli and cholera.

The key points of the article*:

- A phage encodes a quorum-sensing receptor that detects a host-produced autoinducer

- Phage detection of the autoinducer controls the phage lytic-lysogeny fate switch

- A new phage protein, Qtip, sequesters and inactivates the phage cI repressor

- Recombinant phages are engineered to execute lysis in response to user-defined cues

* Silpe JE and Bassler BL. A Host-Produced Quorum-Sensing Autoinducer Controls a Phage Lysis-Lysogeny Decision // Cell, Published: December 13, 2018. DOI: 10.1016 / j.cell.2018.10.059