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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Oct;50(1):303-17.

Genome and proteome of Listeria monocytogenes phage PSA: an unusual case for programmed + 1 translational frameshifting in structural protein synthesis.

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1
Institut für Mikrobiologie, FML Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Weihenstephaner Berg 3, D-85350 Freising, Germany.

Abstract

PSA is a temperate phage isolated from Listeria monocytogenes strain Scott A. We report its complete nucleotide sequence, which consists of a linear 37 618 bp DNA featuring invariable, 3'-protruding single stranded (cohesive) ends of 10 nucleotides. The physical characteristics were confirmed by partial denaturation mapping and electron microscopy of DNA molecules. Fifty-seven open reading frames were identified on the PSA genome, which are apparently organized into three major transcriptional units, in a life cycle-specific order. Functional assignments could be made to 33 gene products, including structural proteins, lysis components, DNA packaging proteins, lysogeny control functions and replication proteins. Bioinformatics demonstrated relatedness of PSA to phages infecting lactic acid bacteria and other low G + C Gram-positives, but revealed only few similarities to Listeria phage A118. Virion proteins were analysed by amino acid sequencing and mass spectrometry, which enabled identification of major capsid and tail proteins, a tape measure and a putative portal. These analyses also revealed an unusual form of translational frameshifting, which occurs during decoding of the mRNAs specifying the two major structural proteins. Frameshifting yields different length forms of Cps (gp5) and Tsh (gp10), featuring identical N-termini but different C-termini. Matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) of tryptic peptide fragments was used to identify the modified C-termini of the longer protein species, by demonstration of specific sequences resulting from + 1 programmed translational frameshifting. A slippery sequence with overlapping proline codons near the 3' ends of both genes apparently redirects the ribosomes and initiates the recoding event. Two different cis-acting factors, a shifty stop and a pseudoknot, presumably stimulate frameshifting efficiency. PSA represents the first case of + 1 frameshifting among dsDNA phages, and appears to be the first example of a virus utilizing a 3' pseudoknot to stimulate such an event.

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