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Reverse Transcriptase-Mediated Tropism Switching in Bordetella Bacteriophage

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Science  15 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5562, pp. 2091-2094
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067467

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Abstract

Host-pathogen interactions are often driven by mechanisms that promote genetic variability. We have identified a group of temperate bacteriophages that generate diversity in a gene, designatedmtd (major tropism determinant), which specifies tropism for receptor molecules on host Bordetella species. Tropism switching is the result of a template-dependent, reverse transcriptase–mediated process that introduces nucleotide substitutions at defined locations within mtd. This cassette-based mechanism is capable of providing a vast repertoire of potential ligand-receptor interactions.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jfmiller{at}ucla.edu.

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