Lytic bacteriophages are expected as effective tools to control infectious bacteria in human and pathogenic or spoilage bacteria in foods. Leaderless bacteriocins (LLBs) are simple bacteriocins produced by Gram-positive bacteria. LLBs do not possess an N-terminal leader peptide in the precursor, which means that they are active immediately after translation. In this study, we constructed a novel antimicrobial agent, an LLB-producing phage (LLB-phage), by genetic engineering to introduce the LLB structural gene into the lytic phage genome. To this end, lnqQ (structure gene of an LLB, lacticin Q) and trxA, an essential gene for T7 phage genome replication, were integrated in tandem into T7 phage genome using homologous recombination in Escherichia coli host strain. The recombinant InqQ-T7 phage was isolated by a screening method using ΔtrxA host strain. InqQ-T7 phage formed a clear halo in agar plates containing both E. coli and lacticin Q-susceptible Bacillus coagulans, indicating that InqQ-T7 phage could produce a significant amount of lacticin Q. Lacticin Q production did not exert a significant effect on the lytic cycle of T7 phage. In fact, the production of lacticin Q enhanced T7 phage lytic activity and helped to prevent the emergence of bacterial populations resistant against this phage. These results serve as a proof of principle for LLB-phages. There are different types of LLBs and phages, meaning that in the future, it may be possible to produce any number of LLB-phages which can be designed to efficiently control different types of bacterial contamination in different settings. IMPORTANCE We demonstrated that we could combine LLB and phage to construct promising novel antimicrobial agents, LLB-phage. The first LLB-phage, lnqQ-T7 phage, can control the growth of both the Gram-negative host strain and neighboring Gram-positive bacteria while preventing the emergence of phage resistance in the host strain. There are several different types of LLBs and phages, suggesting that we may be able to design a battery of LLB-phages by selecting novel combinations of LLBs and phages. These constructs could be tailored to control various bacterial contaminations and infectious diseases.
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