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Virology. 2011 Mar 15;411(2):393-415. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2010.12.046. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Evolution of mosaically related tailed bacteriophage genomes seen through the lens of phage P22 virion assembly.

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Pathology Department, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


The mosaic composition of the genomes of dsDNA tailed bacteriophages (Caudovirales) is well known. Observations of this mosaicism have generally come from comparisons of small numbers of often rather distantly related phages, and little is known about the frequency or detailed nature of the processes that generate this kind of diversity. Here we review and examine the mosaicism within fifty-seven clusters of virion assembly genes from bacteriophage P22 and its "close" relatives. We compare these orthologous gene clusters, discuss their surprising diversity and document horizontal exchange of genetic information between subgroups of the P22-like phages as well as between these phages and other phage types. We also point out apparent restrictions in the locations of mosaic sequence boundaries in this gene cluster. The relatively large sample size and the fact that phage P22 virion structure and assembly are exceptionally well understood make the conclusions especially informative and convincing.

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