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Lytic and lysogenic infection of diverse Escherichia coli and Shigella strains with a verocytotoxigenic bacteriophage

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A verocytotoxigenic bacteriophage isolated from a strain of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157, into which a kanamycin resistance gene (aph3) had been inserted to inactivate the verocytotoxin gene (vt2), was used to infect Enterobacteriaceae strains. A number of Shigella and E. coli strains were susceptible to lysogenic infection, and a smooth E. coli isolate (O107) was also susceptible to lytic infection. The lysogenized strains included different smooth E. coli serotypes of both human and animal origin, indicating that this bacteriophage has a substantial capacity to disseminate verocytotoxin genes. A novel indirect plaque assay utilizing an E. coli recA441 mutant in which phage-infected cells can enter only the lytic cycle, enabling detection of all infective phage, was developed.

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