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Bacteriophage terminases are oligomeric multifunctional proteins that bind to vegetative DNA, cut it and, together with portal proteins, translocate the DNA into preformed heads. Most terminases are encoded by two partially overlapping genes. In phage T4 they are genes 16 and 17. We have shown before that the larger of these, gene 17, can yield, in addition to a full-length 70 kDa product, several shorter peptides. At least two of these, gene product (gp) 17' and gp17", are initiated in the same reading frame as the 70 kDa gp17 from internal ribosome binding sites. Most of the shorter gp17 s contain predicted ATPase motifs, but only the largest (70 kDa) peptide has a predicted single-stranded DNA binding domain. Here we describe the DNA binding and cutting properties of the purified 70 kDa protein, expressed from two different clones containing gene 17 but no other T4 gene. Epitope-specific antibodies, which recognize several different gene 17 products in extracts of induced clones or of T4-infected cells, precipitate the purified 70 kDa gp17. When Mg2+ is chelated by EDTA this 70 kDa protein binds to single-stranded DNA, preferentially to junctions of single- and double-stranded DNA segments. It does not bind to blunt-ended double-stranded DNA. When Mg2+ is present the purified 70 kDa gp17 digests single-stranded segments preferentially up to junctions with double-stranded DNA. A 70 kDa gp17 from a P379L temperature sensitive (ts) mutant, which has lost the nuclease and ATPase activities, retains the single-stranded DNA binding activity. Taken together with earlier findings these results support a model for packaging of T4 DNA from single-stranded regions in recombinational or replicative intermediates, which occur at nearly random positions of the genome. This mechanism may be an alternative to site-specific initiation of packaging proposed by other investigators.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press Limited.
Repair of the exocyclic DNA adduct propanodeoxyguanosine (PdG) was assessed in both in vivo and in vitro assays. PdG was site-specifically incorporated at position 6256 of M13MB102 DNA, and the adducted viral genome was electroporated into repair-proficient and repair-deficient Escherichia coli strains. Comparable frequencies of PdG --> T and PdG --> A mutations at position 6256 were detected following replication of the adducted genomes in wild-type E. coli strains. A 4-fold increase in the frequencies of transversions and transitions was observed in E. coli strains deficient in Uvr(A)BC-dependent nucleotide excision repair. A similar increase in the replication of the adduct containing strand was observed in the repair-deficient strains. No change in the frequency of targeted mutations was observed in strains deficient in one or both of the genes coding for 3-methyladenine glycosylase. Incubation of purified E. coli Uvr(A)BC proteins with a duplex 156-mer containing a single PdG adduct resulted in removal of a 12-base oligonucleotide containing the adduct. Incubation of the same adducted duplex with Chinese hamster ovary cell-free extracts also resulted in removal of the adduct. PdG was a better substrate for repair by the mammalian nucleotide excision repair complex than the bacterial repair complex and was approximately equal to a thymine-thymine dimer as a substrate for the former. The results of these in vivo and in vitro experiments indicate that PdG, a homolog of several endogenously produced DNA adducts, is repaired by the nucleotide excision repair pathway.
The products of the bacteriophage T4 terminase genes 16 and 17 are known to mediate cutting and packaging of concatemeric vegetative DNA. We show here that the larger of these genes, 17, yields multiple protein species. The complex expression of the T4 terminase genes includes overlapping transcripts, probably initiated from multiple promoters, RNA processing at certain preferred sites and translation initiation from multiple ribosome binding sites (RBS). Translation initiation from these RBS may be modulated by inverted repeat (IR) sequences whose folding can be predicted to differ in different RNA species. In T4 infected bacteria, genes 16 and 17 are probably co-transcribed from several near-consensus late promoters upstream from gene 16, and processed at multiple sites. Additional 5' ends of late transcripts are located downstream from a near-consensus late promoter inside gene 17 and further downstream, unrelated to any known promoter consensus sequence. The gene 17 transcripts that are initiated or cleaved internally contain RBS for shorter open reading frames (ORFs) in the same frame as full-length gene product (gp) 17 of 70 kDa. The truncated proteins, a 59-kDa gp17' and a 45-kDa gp17", are synthesized from cloned gene 17 segments in which the first gene 17 RBS is deleted. Expression of gene 17 is different in BL21(DE3) or W3110[pACT7] host bacteria. The gp17' and gp17" proteins are predicted to contain one or more of the ATPase motifs that are common among large subunits of other phage terminases. They lack a predicted single stranded (ss) DNA binding motif that is unique the large terminase proteins in T4 gp17, and that has been implicated in recognizing ssDNA regions in replicating and recombining T4DNA destined to be packaged. We hypothesize that a truncated gene 17' is an evolutionary precursor of the full-size T4 gene 17. Its function may have been maintained to allow processive packaging from double stranded (ds) DNA ends.