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J Mol Biol. 1983 May 25;166(3):341-60.

Gene 20 product of bacteriophage T4. II. Its structural organization in prehead and bacteriophage.


The location of gene 20 product of bacteriophage T4 in phage and phage percursors has been determined by immunochemical analysis of polyacrylamide gels, immunoturbidimetry and immunoelectron microscopy. The protein is present at the membrane attachment site of the prehead, a head precursor, and is accessible to the antibodies in the solution. It is present at the tail attachment site of the capsid, partially buried in the structure. In complete phage particles it is totally buried in the structure. It is in contact with the major shell proteins, gp23 and gp23*, respectively, in preheads and capsids, as revealed by partial crosslinking experiments. It forms the upper collar of the neck in necked tails. The lower collar is constructed from other gene products. On the basis of these data a structural model of the neck region of the phage has been derived. This model is consistent with a number of events in phage assembly, such as the role of gp20 in head assembly and DNA packaging, prehead detachment from the bacterial membrane and head-tail attachment. The symmetry mismatch known to occur between head and tail has been localized at the gp20-gp23* contact area.

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