Mycobacteriophages and their potential as source against Mycobacterial active biomolecules

in Bioinformatics News/Genomics by and

So, today is the great festival of Christmas……! Birthday of The Son of God.. And on this Auspicious day, We want to present before you all the power of Nature… How nature itself provides solution against the problem raised within it….. We all are aware of the epidemics of threat created by Mycobaterium tuberculosis and other related species. But, down here in this article we show how nature provides the solution against it.

As we know Bacteriophage (Bacterio= Bacteria’s, Phage= eater) infects several bacterium species. In contrast to it, a Mycobacteriophage is a member of a group of bacteriophages that infect mycobacterial species as their hosts e.g.,  Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis.

The rising incidence of tuberculosis, emergence of multi drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and a slow progress in finding new drugs makes mycobacteriophage a potential candidate for its use as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool against TB.

All the characterized Mycobacteriophages are double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) tailed phages belonging to the order Caudovirales. Most are of the family Siphoviridae , characterized by  long flexible non contractile tails, whereas phages of the family Myoviridae, have contractile tails. There is a notable absence of mycobacteriophages from the family Podoviridae (containing short stubby tails), arising the question whether long tails are needed to traverse the relatively thick mycobacterial cell envelope. dsDNA tailed phages are either temperate, forming stable lysogens with a turbid plaque or lytic, forming clear plaques in which the host cells are killed. Mycobacteriophages can also be studied by the morphology of the plaques which vary in size and shape. Plaque morphology also depends on the burst size, which is the number of phage particles released on the lysis of the infected bacteria.

Genometrics of 70 sequenced Mycobacteriophages

Since the mycobacterial cell wall consists of a mycolic acid rich Mycobacterial outer membrane, attached to an arabinogalactan layer that is in turn linked to the peptidoglycan, it poses significant challenge to the phages. This challenge is met by a set of proteins, namely Lysin B proteins that cleave the linkage of mycolic acids to the arabinogalactan layer, holins that regulate lysis timing, and the endolysins (LysinAs) that hydrolyze peptidoglycan.

Phages affect hosts with a holin-endolysin system essential for programmed lysis. Endolysin is  found to be associated with a protein component of the phage tail involved in facilitating the penetration of the murein during injection of the genome into the host. Holins are small membrane proteins that form holes in the membrane through which the endolysin can pass. Holins control the length of the infective cycle for lytic phages so as to achieve lysis at an optimal time.

Endolysins can be a source of potential antibacterial because of its specificity (targeting only a few strains of bacteria) and thus replacing antibiotics (which have a more wide ranging effect), their low probababilty of developing resistance in Mycobacterium and novel mode of action.

Bioinformatics can assist this particular field of research by finding several other proteins existing on this planet or to prepare other such options having similar pharmacophore (physical and chemical attributes) properties. We can demolish the various disease threats by using natural options provided to us and can remain healthy on this planet. The only point to be remembered for this is,


(A major part of this article consist of some texts copied from

Hatfull, Graham F. “Mycobacteriophages: genes and genomes.” Annual review of microbiology 64 (2010): 331-356.

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Mr. Sanjay is currently a Doctoral student at Department of Computer Science, Jamia Millia Islamia. He is a Dreamer of Science and lives his life in Love with Science. His research experience includes the exposure of some of prestigious and well known research/academic institutions of India like Indian Agricultural Research Institute, SCIS JNU, Hansraj College, etc. He aims to contribute in science and dissolve the boundaries worldwide for same. Although he loves to stay in lab for most of his time; but when the chair is seen blank, you may find him some where in the play ground with his football.

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