National Center for
3H2T: Crystal structure of gene product 6, baseplate protein of bacteriophage T4
Structure (2009) 17 p.800-808
The baseplate of bacteriophage T4 is a multicomponent protein complex, which controls phage attachment to the host. It assembles from six wedges and a central hub. During infection the baseplate undergoes a large conformational change from a dome-shaped to a flat, star-shaped structure. We report the crystal structure of the C-terminal half of gene product (gp) 6 and investigate its motion with respect to the other proteins during the baseplate rearrangement. Six gp6 dimers interdigitate, forming a ring that maintains the integrity of the baseplate in both conformations. One baseplate wedge contains an N-terminal dimer of gp6, whereas neighboring wedges are tied together through the C-terminal dimer of gp6. The dimeric interactions are preserved throughout the rearrangement of the baseplate. However, the hinge angle between the N- and C-terminal parts of gp6 changes by approximately 15 degrees , accounting for a 10 A radial increase in the diameter of the gp6 ring.