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Mol Microbiol. 1997 Feb;23(3):603-16.

Characterization of Natronobacterium magadii phage phi Ch1, a unique archaeal phage containing DNA and RNA.

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Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, University of Vienna, Austria.


A novel archaeal bacteriophage, phi Ch1, was isolated from a haloalkalophilic archaeon Natronobacterium magadii upon spontaneous lysis. The phage-cured strain N. magadii(L13) was used to demonstrate infectivity of phage phi Ch1. The turbid-plaque morphology and the fact that N. magadii cells isolated from plaques were able to produce phage indicated that phi Ch1 is a temperate phage. The phage morphology resembles other members of Myoviridae-infecting Halobacterium species. In solution below 2M NaCl, the phage lost its morphological stability and infectivity. One- and two-dimensional SDS-PAGE of phage particles revealed at least four major and five minor proteins with molecular masses ranging from 15 to 80 kDa and acidic isoelectric points. Southern blot analysis of chromosomal DNA of a lysogenic N. magadii strain showed that phi Ch1 exists as a chromosomally integrated prophage. The phage particles contain both double-stranded, linear DNA (approx. 55 kbp) as well as several RNA species (80-700 nucleotides). Hybridization of labelled RNA fragments to total DNA from N. magadii and phi Ch1 showed that the virion-associated RNA is host encoded. Part of the phage DNA population is modified and restriction analysis revealed evidence for adenine methylation. Phage phi Ch1 is the first virus described for the genus natronobacterium, and the first phage containing DNA and RNA in mature phage particles.

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