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Nathan Myers

I see... while it might be useful for epithelial cells to express the virus genome directly, they have no plausible means to get it, so they delegate the job.

What confuses me about this is that I imagine mucus flowing in one direction, carrying away the present generation of bacteria and virus particles with it. How does it get seeded with helpful bacteria and phages further upstream? I'm assuming the bacteria cannot bull their way through it any faster than it is typically moving.

Merry comments: Hmmmm, this raises questions about mucus layer thickness, mucus turnover times, and bacterial motility. Since the bacteria can infect the underlying epithelium, they must be able to move through the mucus faster than the mucus conveyor belt is carrying them into the lumen. The phages can hitch a ride inside the bacteria, perhaps as prophages integrated in the bacterial chromosome. A small percentage of prophages in such cells will spontaneously excise from the chromosome and launch an infection. Their progeny would seed the surrounding mucus. Infected bacteria remain motile until they are actually lyse, providing a Trojan horse situation for the infecting phage. We may have to wait for subsequent research reports to get a real answer here.

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