National Center for
2X53: Structure of the phage p2 baseplate in its activated conformation with Sr
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. (2010) 107 p.6852-6857
Siphoviridae is the most abundant viral family on earth which infects bacteria as well as archaea. All known siphophages infecting gram+ Lactococcus lactis possess a baseplate at the tip of their tail involved in host recognition and attachment. Here, we report analysis of the p2 phage baseplate structure by X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy and propose a mechanism for the baseplate activation during attachment to the host cell. This approximately 1 MDa, Escherichia coli-expressed baseplate is composed of three protein species, including six trimers of the receptor-binding protein (RBP). RBPs host-recognition domains point upwards, towards the capsid, in agreement with the electron-microscopy map of the free virion. In the presence of Ca(2+), a cation mandatory for infection, the RBPs rotated 200 degrees downwards, presenting their binding sites to the host, and a channel opens at the bottom of the baseplate for DNA passage. These conformational changes reveal a novel siphophage activation and host-recognition mechanism leading ultimately to DNA ejection.