Analysis of the complete nucleotide sequence of the lactococcal phage 4268, which is lytic for the cheese starter Lactococcus lactis DPC4268, is presented. Phage 4268 has a linear genome of 36,596 bp, which is modularly organised and encompasses 49 open reading frames. Putative functions were assigned to approximately 45% of the predicted products of these open reading frames based on sequence similarity with known proteins, N-terminal sequence analysis and identification of conserved domains. Significantly, a segment of the genome has homology to the recently sequenced lysogenic module in lactococcal phage phi31 that contains a lytic switch but no phage integrase or attachment site. This suggests that it is derived from a prophage. A phage 4268-encoded and a host-encoded methylase were found to be highly similar, having only two nucleotide mismatches, suggesting that the phage acquired the methylase gene to protect it from a host endonuclease. Comparative genomic analysis revealed significant homology between phage 4268 and the lactococcal phage BK5-T. The comparative analysis also supported the classification of phage 4268 and other BK5-T-related phage as separate from the proposed P335 species of lactococcal phage.
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