Tailed bacteriophages use a portal system for genome entry and exit from viral capsids. Here, we review the mechanisms how these movements are controlled by the genome gatekeeper that assembles at the portal structure. Phage DNA is packaged at high pressure inside the viral capsid by a powerful motor. The viral genome is translocated through the central channel of the portal protein found at a single vertex of the capsid. Packaging is normally terminated by endonucleolytic cleavage of the substrate DNA followed by disassembly of the packaging motor and closure of the portal system, preventing leakage of the viral genome. This can be achieved either by conformational changes in the portal protein or by sequential addition of proteins that extend the portal channel (adaptors) and physically close it preventing DNA exit (stoppers). The resulting connector structure provides the interface for assembly of short tails (podoviruses) or for attachment of preformed long tails (siphoviruses and myoviruses). The connector maintains the viral DNA correctly positioned for ejection that is triggered by interaction of the phage particle with bacterial receptors. Recent exciting advances are providing new molecular insights on the mechanisms that ensure precise coordination of these critical steps required both for stable viral genome packaging and for its efficient release to initiate infection.
"packaging. In many bacteriophages the DNA packaging depends on their portal structure (Johnson and Chiu, 2007; Tavares et al., 2012). In the future it would be interesting to study the structure of the portal vertices of EL, and compare it to the ones of phiKZ, and other related phages. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A unique feature of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa giant phage phiKZ is its way of genome packaging onto a spool-like protein structure, the inner body. Until recently, no similar structures have been detected in other phages. We have studied DNA packaging in P. aeruginosa phages EL and Lin68 using cryo-electron microscopy and revealed the presence of inner bodies. The shape and positioning of the inner body and the density of the DNA packaging in EL are different from those found in phiKZ and Lin68. This internal organization explains how the shorter EL genome is packed into a large EL capsid, which has the same external dimensions as the capsids of phiKZ and Lin68. The similarity in the structural organization in EL and other phiKZ-like phages indicates that EL is phylogenetically related to other phiKZ-like phages, and, despite the lack of detectable DNA homology, EL, phiKZ, and Lin68 descend from a common ancestor.
"A switch back to nuclease activity in response to the level of DNA filling of the capsid achieves the dsDNA termination cut ending the packaging cycle. This cleavage is either sequence-specific or sequence-independent (headful packaging mechanism) depending on the viral system (7). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The large terminase subunit is a central component of the genome packaging motor from tailed bacteriophages and herpes viruses. This two-domain enzyme has an N-terminal ATPase activity that fuels DNA translocation during packaging and a C-terminal nuclease activity required for initiation and termination of the packaging cycle. Here, we report that bacteriophage SPP1 large terminase (gp2) is a metal-dependent nuclease whose stability and activity are strongly and preferentially enhanced by Mn(2+) ions. Mutation of conserved residues that coordinate Mn(2+) ions in the nuclease catalytic site affect the metal-induced gp2 stabilization and impair both gp2-specific cleavage at the packaging initiation site pac and unspecific nuclease activity. Several of these mutations block also DNA encapsidation without affecting ATP hydrolysis or gp2 C-terminus binding to the procapsid portal vertex. The data are consistent with a mechanism in which the nuclease domain bound to the portal switches between nuclease activity and a coordinated action with the ATPase domain for DNA translocation. This switch of activities of the nuclease domain is critical to achieve the viral chromosome packaging cycle.
Nucleic Acids Research 10/2012; 41(1). DOI:10.1093/nar/gks974 · 9.11 Impact Factor
Erika S Langsfeld, Jason M Bodily, Laimonis A Laimins
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