Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36869669
Link to DOI – 10.1093/nar/gkad123
Nucleic Acids Res 2023 Mar; ():
Bacteriophage-bacteria interactions are affected by phage satellites, elements that exploit phages for transfer between bacteria. Satellites can encode defense systems, antibiotic resistance genes, and virulence factors, but their number and diversity are unknown. We developed SatelliteFinder to identify satellites in bacterial genomes, detecting the four best described families: P4-like, phage inducible chromosomal islands (PICI), capsid-forming PICI, and PICI-like elements (PLE). We vastly expanded the number of described elements to ∼5000, finding bacterial genomes with up to three different families of satellites. Most satellites were found in Proteobacteria and Firmicutes, but some are in novel taxa such as Actinobacteria. We characterized the gene repertoires of satellites, which are variable in size and composition, and their genomic organization, which is very conserved. Phylogenies of core genes in PICI and cfPICI indicate independent evolution of their hijacking modules. There are few other homologous core genes between other families of satellites, and even fewer homologous to phages. Hence, phage satellites are ancient, diverse, and probably evolved multiple times independently. Given the many bacteria infected by phages that still lack known satellites, and the recent proposals for novel families, we speculate that we are at the beginning of the discovery of massive numbers and types of satellites.