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J Mol Biol. 1987 Apr 5;194(3):469-79.

Recognition and cleavage of the bacteriophage P1 packaging site (pac). II. Functional limits of pac and location of pac cleavage termini.


Bacteriophage P1 initiates the processive packaging of its DNA at a unique site called pac. We show that a functional pac site is contained within a 161 base-pair segment of P1 EcoRI fragment 20. It extends from a position 71 base-pairs to a position 232 base-pairs from the EcoRI-22 proximal side of that fragment. The 3' and 5' pac termini are located centrally within that 161 base-pair region and are distributed over about a turn of the DNA helix. The DNA sequence of the terminus region is shown below, with the large arrows indicating the positions of termini that are frequently represented in the PI population and the small arrows indicating the positions of termini that are rarely represented in the P1 population. (Sequence: in text). Digestion of P1 virus DNA with EcoRI generates two major EcoRI-pac fragments, which differ in size by about five or six base-pairs. While the structure and position of the double-stranded pac ends of these fragments have not been determined precisely, the 5' termini at those ends probably correspond to the two major pac cleavage sites in the upper strand of the sequences shown above. The 161 base-pair pac site contains the hexanucleotide sequence 5'-TGATCAG-3' repeated four times at one end and three times at the other. Removal of just one of those elements from either the right or left ends of pac reduces pac cleavage by about tenfold. Moreover, the elements appear to be additive in their effect on pac cleavage, as removal of one and a half elements or all three elements from the right side of pac reduces pac cleavage 100-fold, and greater than 1000-fold, respectively.

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