Phage development depends not only upon phage functions but also on the physiological state of the host, characterized by levels and activities of host cellular functions. We established Escherichia coli at different physiological states by continuous culture under different dilution rates and then measured its production of phage T7 during a single cycle of infection. We found that the intracellular eclipse time decreased and the rise rate increased as the growth rate of the host increased. To develop mechanistic insight, we extended a computer simulation for the growth of phage T7 to account for the physiology of its host. Literature data were used to establish mathematical correlations between host resources and the host growth rate; host resources included the amount of genomic DNA, pool sizes and elongation rates of RNA polymerases and ribosomes, pool sizes of amino acids and nucleoside triphosphates, and the cell volume. The in silico (simulated) dependence of the phage intracellular rise rate on the host growth rate gave quantitatively good agreement with our in vivo results, increasing fivefold for a 2.4-fold increase in host doublings per hour, and the simulated dependence of eclipse time on growth rate agreed qualitatively, deviating by a fixed delay. When the simulation was used to numerically uncouple host resources from the host growth rate, phage growth was found to be most sensitive to the host translation machinery, specifically, the level and elongation rate of the ribosomes. Finally, the simulation was used to follow how bottlenecks to phage growth shift in response to variations in host or phage functions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology