Phage satellites are genetic elements that couple their life cycle to that of helper phages they parasitize, interfering with phage packaging through the production of small capsids, where only satellites are packaged. So far, in all analyzed systems, the satellite-sized capsids are composed of phage proteins. Here, we report that a family of phage-inducible chromosomal islands (PICIs), a type of satellites, encodes all the proteins required for both the production of small-sized capsids and the exclusive packaging of the PICIs into these capsids. Therefore, this new family, named capsid-forming PICIs (cf-PICIs), only requires phage tails to generate PICI particles. Remarkably, the representative cf-PICIs are produced with no cost from their helper phages, suggesting that the relationship between these elements is not parasitic. Finally, our phylogenomic studies indicate that cf-PICIs are present both in gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and have evolved at least three times independently to spread in nature.
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Instill Science / A widespread family of phage-inducible chromosomal islands only steals bacteriophage tails to spread in nature
January 17, 2023 ∙ atif-khan
Phage satellites phage-inducible chromosomal islands