European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology

Isolation and development of bioluminescent reporter phages for bacterial dysentery.

PMID 25252629


Shigellosis is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, most notably amongst children. Moreover, there is a global increase in the occurrence of multidrug-resistant isolates, including the epidemic and pandemic Shigella dysenteriae type 1 strain. We developed a bioluminescent reporter phage assay to facilitate detection and simultaneously determine antibiotic susceptibility. A Shigella flexneri phage (Shfl25875) was isolated from environmental wastewater and characterized by DNA sequencing. Shfl25875 is T4-like, harbors a 169,062-bp genome, and grows on most (28/29) S. flexneri strains and all 12 S. dysenteriae type 1 strains tested. The genes encoding bacterial luciferase were integrated into the Shfl25875 genome to create a "light-tagged" phage capable of transducing a bioluminescent phenotype to infected cells. Shfl25875::luxAB rapidly detects cultured isolates with high sensitivity. Specificity experiments indicate that the reporter does not respond to Shigella boydii, non-type 1 S. dysenteriae strains, and most non-Shigella Enterobacteriaceae. Shfl25875::luxAB generates ampicillin and ciprofloxacin susceptibility profiles that are similar to the standard Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) growth microdilution method, but in a significantly shorter time. In addition, the reporter phage detects Shigella in mock-infected stool. This new reporter phage shows promise as a tool for the detection of cultured isolates or complex clinical samples.