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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Aug 8;372(4):589-94. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.05.094. Epub 2008 Jun 2.

Modular assembly of chimeric phi29 packaging RNAs that support DNA packaging.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, LJS-251, 840 Downey Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0744, USA.


The bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor is a protein/RNA complex that can produce strong force to condense the linear-double-stranded DNA genome into a pre-formed protein capsid. The RNA component, called the packaging RNA (pRNA), utilizes magnesium-dependent inter-molecular base-pairing interactions to form ring-shaped complexes. The pRNA is a class of non-coding RNA, interacting with phi29 motor proteins to enable DNA packaging. Here, we report a two-piece chimeric pRNA construct that is fully competent in interacting with partner pRNA to form ring-shaped complexes, in packaging DNA via the motor, and in assembling infectious phi29 virions in vitro. This is the first example of a fully functional pRNA assembled using two non-covalently interacting fragments. The results support the notion of modular pRNA architecture in the phi29 packaging motor.

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