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Biophys Chem. 1994 May;50(1-2):183-9.

DNA structure in the nucleoprotein complex that activates replication of phage phi 29.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma, Canto Blanco, Madrid, Spain.


Initiation of phage phi 29 DNA replication is activated by the viral protein p6 which forms a nucleoprotein complex at the replication origins, located at the linear genome ends. The complex consists of a DNA right-handed superhelix wrapped around a multimeric protein core. We have determined the superhelical path of the DNA in the complex, measuring the change in linking number induced by the protein, the surface-related helical repeat and the compaction of the DNA. One superhelical turn has approximately 63 bp (2.6 p6 dimers). Furthermore, we have determined that the DNA binding domain of protein p6 is located at the N-terminal region, predicted to form an amphipathic alpha-helix. We have obtained, by site-directed mutagenesis, protein p6 mutants in the polar side of the putative helix in which their DNA binding and replication activation properties were impaired or undetectable, in agreement with in vivo results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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