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J Mol Biol. 1995 Jun 9;249(3):545-54.

RNA binding, packaging and polymerase activities of the different incomplete polymerase complex particles of dsRNA bacteriophage phi 6.

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Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland.


phi 6 is an enveloped dsRNA bacterial virus. Its segmented genome resides inside the virion associated polymerase complex which is formed by four proteins (P1, P2, P4 and P7) encoded by the viral L segment. Complete and incomplete polymerase complex particles can be produced using cDNA copies of this largest genome segment. We have analysed the capacity of the different purified particles to (1) package phi 6 (+) sense genomic precursors and unspecific RNA, (2) synthesize (-) and (+) strands and (3) bind phi 6 specific and unspecific RNAs. Both (-) and (+) strand synthesis polymerase activities were found to be associated with protein P2. In addition to complete particles, particles lacking protein P2 were found to package and protect genomic precursor ssRNAs. Protein P7 was needed for efficient packaging. Regulation and specificity of the packaging were found to be independent of P2. Particles composed of proteins P1 and P4 did not package or protect RNA but did bind phi 6 genomic (+) strand RNAs. The three phi 6 (+) strands bound in equal amounts to the particles when tested alone in a filter binding assay. In competition experiments they competed each other for binding, indicating that individual binding sites for the three genomic (+) strands do not exist. Differences in RNA binding competition among the four particles were observed, suggesting that packaging specificity is achieved by complex interactions of proteins and genomic (+) strand RNAs during the advancement of the packaging process after the initial binding events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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