Restriction-modification systems and bacteriophage invasion: Who wins?

Farida N. Enikeeva, Konstantin V. Severinov, Mikhail S. Gelfand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The success of a phage that infects a bacterial cell possessing a restriction-modification (R-M) system depends on the activities of the host methyltransferase and restriction endonuclease, and the number of susceptible sites in the phage genome. However, there is no model describing this dependency and linking it to observable parameters such as the fraction of surviving cells under excess phage, or probability of plating at low amount of phages. We model the phage infection of a cell with a R-M system as a pure birth process with a killing state. We calculate the transitional probabilities and the stationary distribution for this process. We generalize the model developed for a single cell to the case of multiple identical cells invaded by a Poisson-distributed number of phages. The R-M enzyme activities are assumed to be constant, time-dependent, or random. The obtained results are used to estimate the ratio of the methyltransferase and endonuclease activities from the observed fraction of surviving cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-559
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Enzyme activities ratio
  • Methyltransferase
  • Pure birth process with killing
  • Restriction endonuclease


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