Virulent mutants of bacteriophage p22.I. Isolation and genetic analysis.


Mutants of phage P22 which form plaques on a P22 lysogen have been isolated. These virulent mutants have been classified into three groups. (i) VirA mutants arise spontaneously in wild-type stocks and form very small turbid plaques on a P22 lysogen. The single mutation responsible for VirA virulence maps near the mnt locus, one of the immunity regions of phage P22. (ii) VirB mutants do not arise spontaneously and have been isolated only from mutagenized P22 stocks. VirB mutants form small, clear plaques on a P22 lysogen. One of the VirB mutants, virB-3, was analyzed in detail. The virB-3 mutant is comprised of two mutations: K5, which maps within the c(2) gene, and Vx, which maps in the region between the c(2) and c(3) genes. Phages carrying either the K5 or Vx mutation are not virulent in themselves but mutate to VirB virulence at a frequency of 10(-5) to 10(-6). It is concluded that K5 and Vx are mutations at specific sites which together confer the ability to undergo phage development in the presence of repressor. (iii) VirC mutants are defined by a large clear plaque morphology when plated on a P22 lysogen. VirC mutants are comprised of the determinants of both VirA and VirB virulence.


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