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Methods Mol Biol. 2009;502:91-111. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60327-565-1_7.

Determining DNA packaging strategy by analysis of the termini of the chromosomes in tailed-bacteriophage virions.

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Division of Cell Biology and Immunology, Department of Pathology, University of Utah Medical School, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.


Tailed-bacteriophage virions contain a single linear dsDNA chromosome which can range in size from about 18 to 500 kbp across the known tailed-phage types. These linear chromosomes can have one of several known types of termini as follows: cohesive ends (5'- or 3'-single-strand extensions), circularly permuted direct terminal repeats, short or long exact direct terminal repeats, terminal host DNA sequences, or covalently bound terminal proteins. These different types of ends reflect differing DNA replication strategies and especially differing terminase actions during DNA packaging. In general, complete genome sequence determination does not by itself elucidate the nature of these ends, so directed experimental analysis is usually required to understand the nature of the virion chromosome ends. This chapter discusses these methods.

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