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Cell. 1997 Oct 17;91(2):271-80.

Encapsidated conformation of bacteriophage T7 DNA.

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Laboratory of Structural Biology, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The structural organization of encapsidated T7 DNA was investigated by cryo-electron microscopy and image processing. A tail-deletion mutant was found to present two preferred views of phage heads: views along the axis through the capsid vertex where the connector protein resides and via which DNA is packaged; and side views perpendicular to this axis. The resulting images reveal striking patterns of concentric rings in axial views, and punctate arrays in side views. As corroborated by computer modeling, these data establish that the T7 chromosome is spooled around this axis in approximately six coaxial shells in a quasi-crystalline packing, possibly guided by the core complex on the inner surface of the connector.

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