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Bioessays. 1995 Dec;17(12):1025-30.

DNA packaging and cutting by phage terminases: control in phage T4 by a synaptic mechanism.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore 21201, USA.


Phage DNA packaging occurs by DNA translocation into a prohead. Terminases are enzymes which initiate DNA packaging by cutting the DNA concatemer, and they are closely fitted structurally to the portal vertex of the prohead to form a 'packasome'. Analysis among a number of phages supports an active role of the terminases in coupling ATP hydrolysis to DNA translocation through the portal. In phage T4 the small terminase subunit promotes a sequence-specific terminase gene amplification within the chromosome. This link between recombination and packaging suggests a DNA synapsis mechanism by the terminase to control packaging initiation, formally homologous to eukaryotic chromosome segregation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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