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J Mol Biol. 2005 May 6;348(3):617-29.

In vitro DNA packaging of PRD1: a common mechanism for internal-membrane viruses.

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Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Institute of Biotechnology, Biocenter 2, P.O. Box 56 (Viikinkaari 5), FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


PRD1 is the type virus of the Tectiviridae family. Its linear double-stranded DNA genome has covalently attached terminal proteins and is surrounded by a membrane, which is further enclosed within an icosahedral protein capsid. Similar to tailed bacteriophages, PRD1 packages its DNA into a preformed procapsid. The PRD1 putative packaging ATPase P9 is a structural protein located at a unique vertex of the capsid. An in vitro system for packaging DNA into preformed empty procapsids was developed. The system uses cell extracts of overexpressed P9 protein and empty procapsids from a P9-deficient mutant virus infection and PRD1 DNA containing a LacZalpha-insert. The in vitro packaged virions produce distinctly blue plaques when plated on a suitable host. This is the first time that a viral genome is packaged in vitro into a membrane vesicle. Comparison of PRD1 P9 with putative packaging ATPase sequences from bacterial, archaeal and eukaryotic viruses revealed a new packaging ATPase-specific motif. Surprisingly the viruses having this packaging ATPase motif, and thus considered to be related, were the same as those recently grouped together using the coat protein fold and virion architecture. Our finding here strongly supports the idea that all these viruses infecting hosts in all domains of life had a common ancestor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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