The mechanism of reduced sensitivity to the small isometric-headed bacteriophage sk1 encoded on a 19-kilobase (kb) HpaII fragment subcloned from pKR223 of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis KR2 was examined. The reduced sensitivity to phage sk1 was due to a modest restriction/modification (R/M) system that was not active against prolate-headed phage c2. The genetic loci for the R/M system against sk1 and the abortive phage infection (Abi) mechanism effective against phage c2 were then localized by restriction mapping, subcloning, and deletion analysis. The restriction gene was localized to a region of a 2.7-kb EcoRV fragment and included an EcoRI site within that fragment. The modification gene was found to be physically separable from the restriction gene and was present on a 1.75-kb BstEII-XbaI fragment. The genetic locus for the Abi phenotype against phage c2 was localized to a region containing a 1.3-kb EcoRI fragment. Attempts to clone the c2 Abi mechanism independent of the sk1 R/M system were unsuccessful, suggesting that expression of the abi genes required sequences upstream of the modification gene. Some pGBK17 (vector pGB301 plus a 19-kb HpaII insert fragment) transformants exhibited the R/M system against phage sk1 but lost the Abi mechanism against phage c2. These transformants contained a 1.2- to 1.3-kb insertion in the Abi region. The data identified genetic loci on a cloned 19-kb HpaII fragment responsible for restriction activity and for modification activity against a small isometric-headed phage and for Abi activity against prolate-headed phage c2. A putative insertion element was also found to inactivate the abi gene(s)
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