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J Mol Biol. 2007 May 25;369(1):239-48. Epub 2007 Mar 20.

Alanine scanning and Fe-BABE probing of the bacteriophage ø29 prohead RNA-connector interaction.

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Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


The DNA packaging motor of the Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage ø29 prohead is comprised in part of an oligomeric ring of 174 base RNA molecules (pRNA) positioned near the N termini of subunits of the dodecameric head-tail connector. Deletion and alanine substitution mutants in the connector protein (gp10) N terminus were assembled into proheads in Escherichia coli and the particles tested for pRNA binding and DNA-gp3 packaging in vitro. The basic amino acid residues RKR at positions 3-5 of the gp10 N terminus were central to pRNA binding during assembly of an active DNA packaging motor. Conjugation of iron(S)-1-(p-bromoacetamidobenzyl) ethylenediaminetetraacetate (Fe-BABE) to residue S170C in the narrow end of the connector, near the N terminus, permitted hydroxyl radical probing of bound [(32)P]pRNA and identified two discrete sites proximal to this residue: the C-helix at the junction of the A, C and D helices, and the E helix and the CE loop/D loop of the intermolecular base pairing site.

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