In most bacteriophages of gram-negative bacteria, the phage endolysin is released to its murein substrate through a lesion in the inner membrane. The lesion is brought about by a second phage-encoded lysis function. For the first time, we present evidence that the same strategy is elaborated by a phage of a gram-positive bacterium. Thus, there appears to be an evolutionarily conserved lysis pathway for most phages whether their host bacterium is gram negative or gram positive. Phage phi 29 gene 14, the product of which is required for efficient lysis of Bacillus subtilis, was cloned in Escherichia coli. Production of protein 14 in E. coli resulted in cell death, whereas production of protein 14 concomitantly with the phi 29 lysozyme or unrelated murein-degrading enzymes led to lysis, suggesting that membrane-bound protein 14 induces a nonspecific lesion in the cytoplasmic membrane
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