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Isolation and characterization of tox mutants of corynebacteriophage beta.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


Seventeen nontoxinogenic (tox) mutants of corynebacteriophage beta have been isolated by using a tissue culture screening technique. The mutants fall into four major classes. Two of the classes, I and II, appear to contain missense and nonsense mutants, respectively. However, classes III and IV have not been previously described. Class III mutants produce two proteins (CRMs) seriologically related to diphtheria toxin, but efforts to demonstrate the presence of more than one tox gene have been successful. Class IV mutants are phenotypically CRM-, failing to produce any detectable protein serologically related to diphtheria toxin. Genetic studies indicate that the mutations in class IV strains are not in a gene distinct form the structural gene for toxin, and that the CRM- strains retain at least a portion of that gene. A natural phage isolate, gamma, behaves in a completely parallel fashion to the class IV mutants. The production of tox+ recombinants through recombination of various pairs of tox phage mutants has been demonstrated. The implications of these findings for the natural history of diphtheria are discussed.

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