Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27667697
Cell Host Microbe 2016 Sep;
Organisms from all domains of life are infected by viruses. In eukaryotes, serine/threonine kinases play a central role in antiviral response. Bacteria, however, are not commonly known to use protein phosphorylation as part of their defense against phages. Here we identify Stk2, a staphylococcal serine/threonine kinase that provides efficient immunity against bacteriophages by inducing abortive infection. A phage protein of unknown function activates the Stk2 kinase. This leads to the Stk2-dependent phosphorylation of several proteins involved in translation, global transcription control, cell-cycle control, stress response, DNA topology, DNA repair, and central metabolism. Bacterial host cells die as a consequence of Stk2 activation, thereby preventing propagation of the phage to the rest of the bacterial population. Our work shows that mechanisms of viral defense that rely on protein phosphorylation constitute a conserved antiviral strategy across multiple domains of life.