Dynamics of DNA Ejection from Bacteriophage

Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.
Biophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 3.83). 08/2006; 91(2):411-20. DOI: 10.1529/biophysj.105.070532
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The ejection of DNA from a bacterial virus (i.e., phage) into its host cell is a biologically important example of the translocation of a macromolecular chain along its length through a membrane. The simplest mechanism for this motion is diffusion, but in the case of phage ejection a significant driving force derives from the high degree of stress to which the DNA is subjected in the viral capsid. The translocation is further sped up by the ratcheting and entropic forces associated with proteins that bind to the viral DNA in the host cell cytoplasm. We formulate a generalized diffusion equation that includes these various pushing and pulling effects and make estimates of the corresponding speedups in the overall translocation process. Stress in the capsid is the dominant factor throughout early ejection, with the pull due to binding particles taking over at later stages. Confinement effects are also investigated, in the case where the phage injects its DNA into a volume comparable to the capsid size. Our results suggest a series of in vitro experiments involving the ejection of DNA into vesicles filled with varying amounts of binding proteins from phage whose state of stress is controlled by ambient salt conditions or by tuning genome length.

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