A continuous evolution system for contracting the host range of bacteriophage T7

Tzvi Holtzman, Rea Globus, Shahar Molshanski-Mor, Adam Ben-Shem, Ido Yosef, Udi Qimron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bacteriophage T7 is an intracellular parasite that recognizes its host via its tail and tail fiber proteins, known as receptor-binding proteins (RBPs). The RBPs attach to specific lipopolysaccharide (LPS) features on the host. Various studies have shown expansion of the phage’s host range via mutations in the genes encoding the RBPs, whereas only a few have shown contraction of its host range. Furthermore, most experimental systems have not monitored the alteration of host range in the presence of several hosts simultaneously. Here we show that T7 phage grown in the presence of five restrictive strains and one permissive host, each with a different LPS form, gradually avoids recognition of the restrictive strains. Remarkably, avoidance of the restrictive strains was repeated in different experiments using six different permissive hosts. The evolved phages carried mutations that changed their specificity, as determined by sequencing of the genes encoding the RBPs. This system demonstrates a major role for RBPs in narrowing the range of futile infections. The system can be harnessed for host-range contraction in applications such as detection or elimination of a specific bacterial serotype by bacteriophages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number307
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


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