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J Mol Biol. 1996 Mar 22;257(1):87-101.

Structure, interactions and dynamics of PRD1 virus I. Coupling of subunit folding and capsid assembly.

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Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics, School of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Kansas City 64110, USA.


Bacteriophage PRD1, which infects Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium, consists of an icosahedral capsid enclosing a membrane-packaged double-stranded DNA genome. The viral shell has been investigated using time and temperature resolved Raman and ultraviolet-resonance Raman spectroscopy to reveal novel features of the capsid structure and its pathway of assembly from P3 subunits. Raman spectra show that the shell is thermostable to 50 degrees C, and disassembles between 50 and 70 C degrees with only a small change in P3 conformation. However, the products of thermal disassembly depend sensitively upon total protein concentration. Characterization by analytical ultracentrifugation indicates that below 8 mg/ml, the purified shell disassembles primarily into P3 trimers; at higher concentrations, larger multimers of P3 are formed. Guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) dissociation of the P3 shell yields similar results. Purified P3 trimers, isolated either by heat or GuHCl treatment, exhibit structure sensitivity between 30 and 50 degrees C. Thus, shell disassembly diminishes P3 thermostability. Both the lower temperature transition (30 degrees C to 50 degrees C) of the trimer and the higher temperature transition (50 degrees C to 70 degrees C) of the shell involve a conversion of approximately 5% of the P3 peptide backbone from alpha-helix to beta-strand. Deuterium exchange of the P3 peptide backbone reveals more rapid exchange in the shell than in the trimer, consistent with the observed non-specific polymerization of trimers at high concentration. Conversely, the exchange of indole 1NH groups shows that approximately 65% of tryptophan residues are protected against exchange in the assembled shell. The results suggest a mechanism for shell assembly in which the specific association of trimers into the correct shell architecture involves stabilization of a subunit alpha-helical domain and sequestering of selected side-chains from solvent access. We propose a capsid assembly model which couples P3 shell formation with the final step in folding of the P3 subunit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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