Scientific article

Head length determination in bacteriophage T4: the role of the core protein P22

Published inJournal of Molecular Biology, vol. 103, no. 1, p. 155-174
Publication date1976-05-05

We have found that two different temperature-sensitive mutations in gene 22, tsA74 and ts22-2, produce high frequencies (up to 85%) of petite phage particles when grown at a permissive or intermediate temperature. Moreover, the ratio of petite to normal particles in a lysate depends upon the temperature at which the phage are grown. These petite phage particles appear to have approximately isometric heads when viewed in the electron microscope, and can be distinguished from normal particles by their sedimentation coefficient and by their buoyant density in CsCl. They are biologically active as detected by their ability to complement a co-infecting amber helper phage. Lysates of both mutants grown at a permissive temperature reveal not only a significant number of petite phage particles in the electron microscope, but also sizeable classes of wider-than-normal particles, particles having abnormally attached tails, and others having more than one tail.

Striking protein differences exist between the purified phage particles of tsA74 or ts22-2 and wild-type T4. B1, a 61,000 molecular weight head protein, is completely absent from the phage particles of both mutants, and the internal protein IPIII is present in reduced amounts as compared to wild type. The precursor to B1 is present in the lysates, but these mutations appear to prevent its incorporation into heads, so it does not become cleaved.

The product of gene 22 (P22) is known to be the major protein of the morphogenetic core of the T4 head. Besides the mutations reported here, several mutations which affect head length have been found in gene 23, which codes for the major capsid protein (Doermann et al., 1973b). We suggest a model in which head length is determined by an interaction between the core (P22 and IPIII) and the outer shell (P23).

  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient
  • Coliphages / metabolism
  • Coliphages / ultrastructure
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Molecular Weight
  • Mutation
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Species Specificity
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
PAULSON, James R., LAZAROFF, Sara, LAEMMLI, Ulrich Karl. Head length determination in bacteriophage T4: the role of the core protein P22. In: Journal of Molecular Biology, 1976, vol. 103, n° 1, p. 155–174. doi: 10.1016/0022-2836(76)90057-7
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0022-2836

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