DEPhT: a novel approach for efficient prophage discovery and precise extraction.

22 Jul 2022
Gauthier CH, Abad L, Venbakkam AK, Malnak J, Russell DA, Hatfull GF

Advances in genome sequencing have produced hundreds of thousands of bacterial genome sequences, many of which have integrated prophages derived from temperate bacteriophages. These prophages play key roles by influencing bacterial metabolism, pathogenicity, antibiotic resistance, and defense against viral attack. However, they vary considerably even among related bacterial strains, and they are challenging to identify computationally and to extract precisely for comparative genomic analyses. Here, we describe DEPhT, a multimodal tool for prophage discovery and extraction. It has three run modes that facilitate rapid screening of large numbers of bacterial genomes, precise extraction of prophage sequences, and prophage annotation. DEPhT uses genomic architectural features that discriminate between phage and bacterial sequences for efficient prophage discovery, and targeted homology searches for precise prophage extraction. DEPhT is designed for prophage discovery in Mycobacterium genomes but can be adapted broadly to other bacteria. We deploy DEPhT to demonstrate that prophages are prevalent in Mycobacterium strains but are absent not only from the few well-characterized Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains, but also are absent from all ∼30 000 sequenced M. tuberculosis strains.