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J Mol Biol. 1998 Sep 11;282(1):25-41.

Roles of pIII in filamentous phage assembly.

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The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY, 10021, USA.


Filamentous phage protein III (pIII), located at one end of the phage, is required for infectivity and stability of the particle. Cells infected with phage from which gene III has been completely deleted produce particles that are not released into the medium but stay associated at the surface. These particles are much longer than normal phage. They can be released by subsequent expression of pIII. Viewed with the electron microscope, cells infected with gene III deletion phage are decorated with structures that resemble extremely long pili. Surprisingly, such cells are viable and can form colonies. The pIII deficiency can be complemented in trans, but there is a threshold concentration below which assembly does not occur. Above this threshold, pIII is used very efficiently and is incorporated into infectious but longer than unit length phage. As the concentration of pIII is increased, the number of infectious particles increases, and their average length decreases.pIII stabilizes pVI, a second phage protein found at the pIII end of the particle. In the absence of pIII, degradation of pVI is very rapid. pIII is thus not only required for infectivity and particle stability, but to terminate assembly and release the phage from its assembly site.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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