Membrane fusion during phage lysis. Academic Article uri icon


  • In general, phages cause lysis of the bacterial host to effect release of the progeny virions. Until recently, it was thought that degradation of the peptidoglycan (PG) was necessary and sufficient for osmotic bursting of the cell. Recently, we have shown that in Gram-negative hosts, phage lysis also requires the disruption of the outer membrane (OM). This is accomplished by spanins, which are phage-encoded proteins that connect the cytoplasmic membrane (inner membrane, IM) and the OM. The mechanism by which the spanins destroy the OM is unknown. Here we show that the spanins of the paradigm coliphage lambda mediate efficient membrane fusion. This supports the notion that the last step of lysis is the fusion of the IM and OM. Moreover, data are provided indicating that spanin-mediated fusion is regulated by the meshwork of the PG, thus coupling fusion to murein degradation by the phage endolysin. Because endolysin function requires the formation of m-scale holes by the phage holin, the lysis pathway is seen to require dramatic dynamics on the part of the OM and IM, as well as destruction of the PG.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 7.45

author list (cited authors)

  • Rajaure, M., Berry, J., Kongari, R., Cahill, J., & Young, R. y.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Rajaure, Manoj||Berry, Joel||Kongari, Rohit||Cahill, Jesse||Young, Ry

publication date

  • April 2015