This post was contributed by guest blogger, Jessica Sacher, a microbiology PhD student at the University of Alberta studying with the Szymanski lab.
Reasons to study how a phage recognizes its host
Bacteriophages (viruses that prey on bacteria) may be the most numerous and most diverse biological entities on our planet, but we still know collectively little about how they infect and influence the evolution of their bacterial prey. Currently, receptor binding proteins (RBPs, the host recognition factors of phages) constitute one of the most popular classes of phage proteins to study. These are highly useful for the biotech industry, which is in the process of capitalizing on phage RBPs as diagnostic tools and therapeutics. In addition, the strategic use of whole phages as therapeutics, which is also gaining a lot of new traction lately (1, 2), depends on knowledge of the structure(s) a given phage will recognize on a host cell.