Chapter

Viral Molecular Machines

Volume 726 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 469-487

Date:

Condensed Genome Structure

  • Lindsay W. BlackAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • , Julie A. ThomasAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Maryland School of Medicine Email author 

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Abstract

Large, tailed dsDNA-containing bacteriophage genomes are packaged to a conserved and high density (∼500 mg/ml), generally in ∼2.5-nm, duplex-to-duplex, spaced, organized DNA shells within icosahedral capsids. Phages with these condensate properties, however, differ markedly in their inner capsid structures: (1) those with a naked condensed DNA, (2) those with many dispersed unstructured proteins embedded within the DNA, (3) those with a small number of localized proteins, and (4) those with a reduced or DNA-free internal protein structure of substantial volume. The DNA is translocated and condensed by a high-force ATPase motor into a procapsid already containing the proteins that are to be ejected together with the DNA into the infected host. The condensed genome structure of a single-phage type is unlikely to be precisely determined and can change without loss of function to fit an altered capsid size or internal structure. Although no such single-phage condensed genome structure is known exactly, it is known that a single general structure is unlikely to apply to all such phages.