Menouni, R., Champ, S., Espinosa, L., Boudvillain, M., Ansaldi, M.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (35) 14414-14419
publié le , mis à jour le
Prophages represent a large fraction of prokaryotic genomes and often provide new functions to their hosts, in particular virulence and fitness. How prokaryotic cells maintain such gene providers is central for understanding bacterial genome evolution by horizontal transfer. Prophage excision occurs through site-specific recombination mediated by a prophage-encoded integrase. In addition, a recombination directionality factor (or excisionase) directs the reaction toward excision and prevents the phage genome from being reintegrated. In this work, we describe the role of the transcription termination factor Rho in prophage maintenance through control of the synthesis of transcripts that mediate recombination directionality factor expression and, thus, excisive recombination. We show that Rho inhibition by bicyclomycin allows for the expression of prophage genes that lead to excisive recombination. Thus, besides its role in the silencing of horizontally acquired genes, Rho also maintains lysogeny of defective and functional prophages.