During a study of the genetic diversity of Stenotrophomonas strains, we found an autonomous replicating DNA molecule in chromosomal DNA preparations of the clinical Stenotrophomonas maltophilia strain c5. The entire sequence of 6,907 bp of the isolated DNA molecule was determined, which was called phiSMA9. Seven ORFs, which code for proteins with considerable similarity to proteins in databases, were identified in the DNA sequence. The largest ORF shows high sequence similarities to the pI protein of the filamentous phage phiLf, which was later shown to be identical to toxin Zot of Vibrio cholerae. Beside the Zot-like protein, six other proteins with similarities to known phage proteins such as a phage replication protein RstA and phage absorption or coat protein are encoded on phiSMA9, which indicate that this circular DNA molecule represents the replicative form of a linear phage genome. A PCR-based screening showed that only five from the totally investigated 47 Stenotrophomonas strains of clinical and environmental origin harbor these genes. Altogether, we describe the first genome of a phage for the nosocomial pathogen Stenotrophomonas, which contains a Zot toxin like gene and might be regarded as the first Stenotrophomonas virulence factor.
2006. Vol. 185, no 6