Eukaryotic association module in phage WO genomes from Wolbachia

Sarah R. Bordenstein, Seth R. Bordenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Viruses are trifurcated into eukaryotic, archaeal and bacterial categories. This domain-specific ecology underscores why eukaryotic viruses typically co-opt eukaryotic genes and bacteriophages commonly harbour bacterial genes. However, the presence of bacteriophages in obligate intracellular bacteria of eukaryotes may promote DNA transfers between eukaryotes and bacteriophages. Here we report a metagenomic analysis of purified bacteriophage WO particles of Wolbachia and uncover a eukaryotic association module i the complete WO genome. It harbours predicted domains, such as the black widow latrotoxin C-terminal domain, that are uninterrupted in bacteriophage genomes, enriched with eukaryotic protease cleavage sites and combined with additional domains to forge one of the largest bacteriophage genes to date (14,256 bp). To the best of our knowledge, these eukaryotic-like domains have never before been reported in packaged bacteriophages and their phylogeny, distribution and sequence diversity imply lateral transfers between bacteriophage/prophage and animal genomes. Finally, the WO genome sequences and identification of attachment sites will potentially advance genetic manipulation of Wolbachia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13155
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Oct 11 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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