Assembly of Bacillus subtilis phage phi29. 1. Mutants in the cistrons coding for the structural proteins.


The effect of mutations in the cistrons coding for the phage structural proteins has been studied by analyzing the phage-related structures accumulated after restrictive infection. Infection with susmutants in cistron 8, lacking both the major head and the fiber protein, does not produce any phage-related structure, suggesting a single route for the assembly of phage phi29; infection with ts mutants in this cistron produces isometric particles. Mutants is cistron 9, coding for the tail protein, TP1, produce DNA-free prolate heads with an internal core; these particles are abortive and contain the head proteins HPO, HP1 and HP3, the upper collar protein NP2 and the nonstructural proteins p7, p15 and p16. Mutants in cistron 10, coding for the upper collar protein, NP2, produce DNA-free isometric heads also with an internal core; they contain the head proteins and the nonstructural protein p7, suggesting that this protein forms the internal core. Mutants in cistrons 11 and 12, coding for the lower collar protein, NP3, and the neck appendages, NP1, respectively, give rise to the formation of DNA-containing normal capsids and DNA-free prolate particles, more rounded at the corners than the normal capsids and with an internal core; the DNA-containing 11-particles are formed by the head proteins and the upper collar protein; the DNA-free 11-particles contain, besides these proteins, the nonstructural protein p7 and a small amount of proteins p15 and 16. The DNA-containing 12-particles have all the normal phage structural proteins except the neck appendages, formed by protein NP1; the DNA-free particles are similar to the DNA-free 11-particles. After restricitive infection mutant sus14(1241) has a delayed lysis phenotype and produces a phage burst higher than normal, after artificial lysis. It produces DNA-containing particles, identical to wild-type phage, which have all the normal phage structural proteins, and DNA-free prolate particles, more rounded at the corners than the final phage particles and with an internal core; the last particles contain the same proteins as the DNA-free 11 or 12-particles. These particles could represent a prohead state, ready for DNA encapsulation. None of the DNA-containing particles have the nonstructural proteins p7, p15 or p16, suggesting that these proteins are released from the proheads upon DNA encapsulation.




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