Mycobacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium, including pathogenic M. tuberculosis and non-pathogenic M. smegmatis. Temperate phages are capable of undergoing both lytic and lysogenic infection. In lytic infections, phage lyse the host cell after replication. In lysogenic infection, the phage integrates its genome into the host genome (prophage) and replicates with the host. All pathogenic strains of Mycobacterium carry prophage that potentially contribute to host virulence and fitness. Formation and maintenance of these prophage is not well understood, particularly for cluster E phage. This project characterizes gene product (gp) 53, a potential Cro-like protein, in cluster E mycobacteriophage Ukulele. Cro-like proteins promote lytic gene expression while repressing lysogenic gene expression. To confirm gp53’s function as a Cro-like protein, strains of M. smegmatis overexpressing Ukulele gp53 are being constructed. The impact of gp53 expression on Ukulele infection will be tested on these strains and compared to wildtype.
Foley, Jackson R., "Finalizing the Genome Annotation of Model Cluster E Mycobacteriophage Ukulele via RNA-Seq Analysis" (2018). Honors College. 327.