The Molecular Biology of Bacterial Virus Systems

Volume 136 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 21-29

Tail Length Determination in Double-Stranded DNA Bacteriophages

  • R. W. HendrixAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

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The question of how biological structures acquire their specific sizes and shapes is one that can be asked across a wide range, from individual polypeptide chains to redwood trees. Certainly it will turn out that many different mechanisms are involved in the various instances of biological form determination, and as with other large biological questions, it will be necessary to understand many specific cases before it is possible to discern the general themes of how form determination works. This paper discusses one such case, namely length determination in bacteriophage tails. This is a problem for which the main outlines of the solution are now clear, and the more refined details seem experimentally accessible.