Biphasic Packing of DNA and Internal Proteins in Bacteriophage T4 Heads Revealed by Bubblegram Imaging.
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AbstractThe virions of tailed bacteriophages and the evolutionarily related herpesviruses contain, in addition to highly condensed DNA, substantial quantities of internal proteins. These proteins ("ejection proteins") have roles in scaffolding, maturational proteolysis, and cell-to-cell delivery. Whereas capsids are amenable to analysis at high resolution by cryo-electron microscopy, internal proteins have proved difficult to localize. In this study, we investigated the distribution of internal proteins in T4 by bubblegram imaging. Prior work has shown that at suitably high electron doses, radiation damage generates bubbles of hydrogen gas in nucleoprotein specimens. Using DNA origami as a test specimen, we show that DNA does not bubble under these conditions; it follows that bubbles represent markers for proteins. The interior of the prolate T4 head, ~1000 Å long by ~750 Å wide, has a bubble-free zone that is ~100-110 Å thick, underlying the capsid shell from which proteins are excluded by highly ordered DNA. Inside this zone, which is plausibly occupied by ~4 layers of coaxial spool, bubbles are generated at random locations in a disordered ensemble of internal proteins and the remainder of the genome.
Identifier to cite or link to this itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/10713/14140
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