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J Virol. 1975 Dec;16(6):1547-59.

Bacteriophage P22 virion protein which performs an essential early function. II. Characterization of the gene 16 function.


P16 is a virion protein and, as such, is incorporated into the phage head as a step in morphogenesis. The role of P16 in assembly is not essential since particles are formed without this protein which appear normal by electron microscopy. P16 is essential when the particle infects a cell in the following cycle of infection. In the absence of functional P16, the infection does not appear to proceed beyond release of phage DNA from the capsid. No known genes are expressed, no DNA is transcribed, and the host cell survives the infection, continuing to grow and divide normally. The P16 function is required only during infection for the expression of phage functions. Induction in the absence of P16 proceeds with the expression of early and late genes and results in particle formation. P16 must be incorporated during morphogenesis into progeny particles after both infection and induction for the progeny to be infectious. The P16 function is necessary for transduction as well as for infection. Its activity is independent of new protein synthesis and it is not under immunity control. P16 can act in trans, but appears to act preferentially on the phage or phage DNA with which it is packaged. The data from complementation studies are compatible with P16 release from the capsid with the phage DNA. In the absence of P16 the infection is blocked, but the phage genome is not degraded. The various roles which have been ruled out for P16 are: (i) an early regulatory function, (ii) an enzymatic activity necessary for phage production, (iii) protection of phage DNA from host degradation enzymes, (iv) any generalized alteration of the host cell, (v) binding parental DNA to the replication complex, and (vi) any direct involvement in the replication of P22 DNA. P16 can be responsible for: (i) complete release of the DNA and disengagement from the capsid, (ii) bringing the released DNA to some necessary cell site or compartment such as the cytoplasm, (iii) removal of other virion proteins from the injected DNA, and (iv) alterations of the structure of the injected DNA.

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