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J Mol Biol. 1992 Oct 20;227(4):1086-99.

Molecular genetic analysis of bacteriophage P22 gene 3 product, a protein involved in the initiation of headful DNA packaging.

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Department of Cellular, Viral and Molecular Biology, University of Utah Medical Center, Salt Lake City 84132.


Bacteriophage P22 DNA packaging events occur in processive series on concatemeric phage DNA molecules. At the point where such series initiate, the DNA is recognized at a site called pac, and most molecular left ends are generated within six short regions called end sites, which are present in a 120 base-pair region surrounding the pac site. The bacteriophage P22 genes 2 and 3 proteins are required for successful generation of these ends and DNA packaging during progeny virion assembly. Mutants lacking the 162-amino-acid gene 3 protein replicate DNA and assemble functional procapsids. In this report we describe the nucleotide changes and DNA packaging phenotypes of a number of missense mutations of gene 3, which give the phage a higher than normal frequency of generalized transduction. In cells infected by these mutants, more packaging events initiate on the host chromosome than in wild-type infections, so the mutations are thought to affect the specificity of packaging initiation. In addition to having this phenotype, these mutations affect the process of phage DNA packaging in detectable ways. They may: (1) alter the target site specificity for packaging; (2) make target site recognition more promiscuous; (3) affect end site utilization; (4) alter the pac site; and (5) cause apparent random DNA packaging series initiation on phage DNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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