Pseudomonas aeruginose produces three types of bacteriocins: R-, F- and S-type pyocins. The S-type pyocin is a colicin-like protein, whereas the R-type pyocin resembles a contractile but non-flexible tail structure of bacteriophage, and the F-type a flexible but non-contractile one. As genetically related phages exist for each type, these pyocins have been thought to be variations of defective phage. In the present study, the nucleotide sequence of R2 pyocin genes, along with those for F2 pyocin, which are located downstream of the R2 gene cluster on the chromosome of P. aeruginosa PAO1, was analysed in order to elucidate the relationship between the pyocins and bacteriophages. The results clearly demonstrated that the R-type pyocin is derived from a common ancestral origin with P2 phage and the F-type from λ phage. This notion was supported by identification of a lysis gene cassette similar to those for bacteriophages. The gene organization of the R2 and F2 pyocin gene cluster, however, suggested that both pyocins are not simple defective phages, but are phage tails that have been evolutionarily specialized as bacteriocins. A systematic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of P. aeruginosa strains that produce various subtypes of R and F pyocins revealed that the genes for every subtype are located between trpE and trpG in the same or very similar gene organization as for R2 and F2 pyocins, but with alterations in genes that determine the receptor specificity.
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