[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA packaging by double-stranded DNA bacteriophages and herpesviruses is driven by a powerful molecular machine assembled at the portal vertex of the empty prohead. The phage T4 packaging machine consists of three components: dodecameric portal (gp20), pentameric large terminase motor (gp17), and 11- or 12-meric small terminase (gp16). These components dynamically interact and orchestrate a complex series of reactions to produce a DNA-filled head containing one viral genome per head. Here, we analyzed the interactions between the portal and motor proteins using a direct binding assay, mutagenesis, and structural analyses. Our results show that a portal binding site is located in the ATP hydrolysis-controlling subdomain II of gp17. Mutations at key residues of this site lead to temperature-sensitive or null phenotypes. A conserved helix-turn-helix (HLH) that is part of this site interacts with the portal. A recombinant HLH peptide competes with gp17 for portal binding and blocks DNA translocation. The helices apparently provide specificity to capture the cognate prohead, whereas the loop residues communicate the portal interaction to the ATPase center. These observations lead to a hypothesis in which a unique HLH-portal interaction in the symmetrically mismatched complex acts as a lever to position the arginine finger and trigger ATP hydrolysis. Transiently connecting the critical parts of the motor; subdomain I (ATP binding), subdomain II (controlling ATP hydrolysis), and C-domain (DNA movement), the portal-motor interactions might ensure tight coupling between ATP hydrolysis and DNA translocation.
Journal of Virology 02/2012; 86(8):4046-57. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ATP is the source of energy for numerous biochemical reactions in all organisms. Tailed bacteriophages use ATP to drive powerful packaging machines that translocate viral DNA into a procapsid and compact it to near-crystalline density. Here we report that a complex network of interactions dictates adenine recognition and ATP hydrolysis in the pentameric phage T4 large "terminase" (gp17) motor. The network includes residues that form hydrogen bonds at the edges of the adenine ring (Q138 and Q143), base-stacking interactions at the plane of the ring (I127 and R140), and cross-talking bonds between adenine, triphosphate, and Walker A P-loop (Y142, Q143, and R140). These interactions are conserved in other translocases such as type I/type III restriction enzymes and SF1/SF2 helicases. Perturbation of any of these interactions, even the loss of a single hydrogen bond, leads to multiple defects in motor functions. Adenine recognition is therefore a key checkpoint that ensures efficient ATP firing only when the fuel molecule is precisely engaged with the motor. This may be a common feature in the energy release mechanism of ATP-driven molecular machines that carry out numerous biomolecular reactions in biological systems.
Journal of Molecular Biology 11/2011; 415(2):329-42. · 3.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In genome packaging by tailed bacteriophages and herpesviruses, a concatemeric DNA is cut and inserted into an empty procapsid. A series of cuts follow the encapsidation of each unit-length 'headful' genome, but the mechanisms by which cutting is coupled to packaging are not understood. Here we report the first biochemical characterization of a headful nuclease from bacteriophage T4. Our results show that the T4 nuclease, which resides in the C-terminal domain of large 'terminase' gp17, is a weak endonuclease and regulated by a variety of factors; Mg, NaCl, ATP, small terminase gp16 and N-terminal ATPase domain. The small terminase, which stimulates gp17-ATPase, also stimulates nuclease in the presence of ATP but inhibits in the absence of ATP suggesting interdomain crosstalk. Comparison of the 'relaxed' and 'tensed' states of the motor show that a number of basic residues lining the nuclease groove are positioned to interact with DNA in the tensed state but change their positions in the relaxed state. These results suggest that conformational changes in the ATPase center remodel the nuclease center via an interdomain 'communication track'. This might be a common regulatory mechanism for coupling DNA cutting to DNA packaging among the headful packaging nucleases from dsDNA viruses.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2010; 39(7):2742-55. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viral genomes are packaged into "procapsids" by powerful molecular motors. We report the crystal structure of the DNA packaging motor protein, gene product 17 (gp17), in bacteriophage T4. The structure consists of an N-terminal ATPase domain, which provides energy for compacting DNA, and a C-terminal nuclease domain, which terminates packaging. We show that another function of the C-terminal domain is to translocate the genome into the procapsid. The two domains are in close contact in the crystal structure, representing a "tensed state." A cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of the T4 procapsid complexed with gp17 shows that the packaging motor is a pentamer and that the domains within each monomer are spatially separated, representing a "relaxed state." These structures suggest a mechanism, supported by mutational and other data, in which electrostatic forces drive the DNA packaging by alternating between tensed and relaxed states. Similar mechanisms may occur in other molecular motors.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most tailed bacteriophages and herpes viruses replicate genome as a concatemer which is cut by a 'headful' nuclease upon completion of genome packaging. Here, the catalytic centre of phage T4 headful nuclease, present in the C-terminal domain of 'large terminase' gp17, has been defined by mutational, biochemical and structural analyses. The crystal structure shows that this nuclease has an RNase-H fold, suggesting that it cuts DNA by a two-metal ion mechanism. The active centre has a Mg ion co-ordinated by three acidic residues, D401, E458 and D542. Mutations at any of these residues resulted in loss of nuclease activity, but the mutants can package linear DNA. The gp17's nuclease activity is modulated by the 'small terminase', gp16, by the N-terminal ATPase domain of gp17, and by the assembled packaging motor. These results lead to hypotheses concerning how phage headful nucleases cut the viral genomes before and after, but not during, DNA packaging.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tailed bacteriophages and large eukaryotic viruses employ powerful molecular motors to translocate dsDNA into a preassembled capsid shell. The phage T4 motor is composed of a dodecameric portal and small and large terminase subunits assembled at the special head-tail connector vertex of the prohead. The motor pumps DNA through the portal channel, utilizing ATP hydrolysis energy provided by an ATPase present in the large terminase subunit. We report that the ATPase motors of terminases, helicases, translocating restriction enzymes, and protein translocases possess a common coupling motif (C-motif). Mutations in the phage T4 terminase C-motif lead to loss of stimulated ATPase and DNA translocation activities. Surprisingly, the mutants can catalyze at least one ATP hydrolysis event but are unable to turn over and reset the motor. This is the first report of a catalytic block in translocating ATPase motor after ATP hydrolysis occurred. We suggest that the C-motif is an ATP hydrolysis sensor, linking product release to mechanical motion. A novel terminase-driven mechanism is proposed for translocation of dsDNA in viruses.
Journal of Molecular Biology 06/2007; 369(1):79-94. · 3.91 Impact Factor