The inner core of bacteriophage φ8 is capable of packaging and replicating the plus strands of the RNA genomic segments of the virus in vitro. The particles composed of proteins P1, P2, P4, and P7 can be assembled in cells of E. coli that carry plasmids with cDNA copies of genomic segment L. The gene arrangement on segment L was found to differ from that of other cystoviruses in that the gene for the ortholog of protein P7 is located at the 3′ end of the plus strand rather than near the 5′ end. In place of the normal location of gene 7 is gene H, whose product is necessary for normal phage development, but not necessary for in vitro genomic packaging and replication. Genomic packaging is dependent upon the activity of an NTPase motor protein, P4. P4 was purified from cell extracts and was found to form hexamers with little NTPase activity until associated with inner core particles. Labeling studies of in vitro packaging of φ8 RNA do not show serial dependence; however, studies involving in vitro packaging for the formation of live virus indicate that packaging is stringent. Studies with the acquisition of chimeric segments in live virus indicate that φ8 does package RNA in the order s/m/l. The inner core of bacteriophage φ8 differs from that of its relatives in the Cystoviridae in that the major structural protein P1 is able to interact with the host cell membrane to effect penetration of the inner core into the cell.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Genomic packaging