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Virology. 1998 Nov 10;251(1):49-58.

Accessory genes in the darA operon of bacteriophage P1 affect antirestriction function, generalized transduction, head morphogenesis, and host cell lysis.

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Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 70, Basel, CH-4056, Switzerland.


Bacteriophage P1 mutants with the 8.86-kb region between the invertible C-segment and the residential IS1 element deleted from their genome are still able to grow vegetatively and to lysogenize stably, but they show several phenotypic changes. These include the formation of minute plaques due to delayed cell lysis, the abundant production of small-headed particles, a lack of specific internal head proteins, sensitivity to type I host restriction systems, and altered properties to mediate generalized transduction. In the wild-type P1 genome, the accessory genes encoding the functions responsible for these characters are localized in the darA operon that is transcribed late during phage production. We determined the relevant DNA sequence that is located between the C-segment and the IS1 element and contains the cin gene for C-inversion and the accessory genes in the darA operon. The darA operon carries eight open reading frames that could encode polypeptides containing >100 amino acids. Genetic studies indicate that some of these open reading frames, in particular those residing in the 5' part of the darA operon, are responsible for the phenotypic traits identified. The study may contribute to a better comprehension of phage morphogenesis, of the mobilization of host DNA into phage particles mediating generalized transduction, of the defense against type I restriction systems, and of the control of host lysis.

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