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J Virol. 1987 Nov;61(11):3499-509.

Multidimensional analysis of intracellular bacteriophage T7 DNA: effects of amber mutations in genes 3 and 19.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio 78284-7760.


By use of rate-zonal centrifugation, followed by either one- or two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis, the forms of intracellular bacteriophage T7 DNA produced by replication, recombination, and packaging have been analyzed. Previous studies had shown that at least some intracellular DNA with sedimentation coefficients between 32S (the S value of mature T7 DNA) and 100S is concatemeric, i.e., linear and longer than mature T7 DNA. The analysis presented here confirmed that most of this DNA is linear, but also revealed a significant amount of circular DNA. The data suggest that these circles are produced during DNA packaging. It is proposed that circles are produced after a capsid has bound two sequential genomes in a concatemer. The size distribution of the linear, concatemeric DNA had peaks at the positions of dimeric and trimeric concatemers. Restriction endonuclease analysis revealed that most of the mature T7 DNA subunits of concatemers were joined left end to right end. However, these data also suggest that a comparatively small amount of left-end to left-end joining occurs, possibly by blunt-end ligation. A replicating form of T7 DNA that had an S value greater than 100 (100S+ DNA) was also found to contain concatemers. However, some of the 100S+ DNA, probably the most branched component, remained associated with the origin after agarose gel electrophoresis. It has been found that T7 protein 19, known to be required for DNA packaging, was also required to prevent loss, probably by nucleolytic degradation, of the right end of all forms of intracellular T7 DNA. T7 gene 3 endonuclease, whose activity is required for both recombination of T7 DNA and degradation of host DNA, was required for the formation of the 32S to 100S molecules that behaved as concatemers during gel electrophoresis. In the absence of gene 3 endonuclease, the primary accumulation product was origin-associated 100S+ DNA with properties that suggest the accumulation of branches, primarily at the left end of mature DNA subunits within the 100S+ DNA.

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