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1.  Genomic, Proteomic, Morphological, and Phylogenetic Analyses of vB_EcoP_SU10, a Podoviridae Phage with C3 Morphology 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e116294.
A recently isolated phage, vB_EcoP_SU10 (SU10), with the unusual elongated C3 morphotype, can infect a wide range of Escherichia coli strains. We have sequenced the genome of this phage and characterized it further by mass spectrometry based proteomics, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and ultra-thin section electron microscopy. The genome size is 77,327 base pairs and its genes, and genome architecture, show high similarity to the phiEco32 phage genes and genome. The TEM images reveal that SU10 have a quite long tail for being a Podoviridae phage, and that the tail also changes conformation upon infection. The ultra-thin section electron microscopy images of phages at the stage of replication within the host cell show that the phages form a honeycomb-like structure under packaging of genomes and assembly of mature capsids. This implies a tight link between the replication and cutting of the concatemeric genome, genome packaging, and capsid assembly. We have also performed a phylogenetic analysis of the structural genes common between Podoviridae phages of the C1 and C3 morphotypes. The result shows that the structural genes have coevolved, and that they form two distinct groups linked to their morphotypes. The structural genes of C1 and C3 phages appear to have diverged around 280 million years ago applying a molecular clock calibrated according to the presumed split between the Escherichia – Salmonella genera.
PMCID: PMC4281155  PMID: 25551446
2.  Structural insight into DNA binding and oligomerization of the multifunctional Cox protein of bacteriophage P2 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(4):2725-2735.
The Cox protein from bacteriophage P2 is a small multifunctional DNA-binding protein. It is involved in site-specific recombination leading to P2 prophage excision and functions as a transcriptional repressor of the P2 Pc promoter. Furthermore, it transcriptionally activates the unrelated, defective prophage P4 that depends on phage P2 late gene products for lytic growth. In this article, we have investigated the structural determinants to understand how P2 Cox performs these different functions. We have solved the structure of P2 Cox to 2.4 Å resolution. Interestingly, P2 Cox crystallized in a continuous oligomeric spiral with its DNA-binding helix and wing positioned outwards. The extended C-terminal part of P2 Cox is largely responsible for the oligomerization in the structure. The spacing between the repeating DNA-binding elements along the helical P2 Cox filament is consistent with DNA binding along the filament. Functional analyses of alanine mutants in P2 Cox argue for the importance of key residues for protein function. We here present the first structure from the Cox protein family and, together with previous biochemical observations, propose that P2 Cox achieves its various functions by specific binding of DNA while wrapping the DNA around its helical oligomer.
PMCID: PMC3936717  PMID: 24259428
3.  Bacteriophage Protein–Protein Interactions 
Advances in virus research  2012;83:219-298.
Bacteriophages T7, λ, P22, and P2/P4 (from Escherichia coli), as well as ϕ29 (from Bacillus subtilis), are among the best-studied bacterial viruses. This chapter summarizes published protein interaction data of intraviral protein interactions, as well as known phage–host protein interactions of these phages retrieved from the literature. We also review the published results of comprehensive protein interaction analyses of Pneumococcus phages Dp-1 and Cp-1, as well as coliphages λ and T7. For example, the ≈55 proteins encoded by the T7 genome are connected by ≈43 interactions with another ≈15 between the phage and its host. The chapter compiles published interactions for the well-studied phages λ (33 intra-phage/22 phage-host), P22 (38/9), P2/P4 (14/3), and ϕ29 (20/2). We discuss whether different interaction patterns reflect different phage lifestyles or whether they may be artifacts of sampling. Phages that infect the same host can interact with different host target proteins, as exemplified by E. coli phage λ and T7. Despite decades of intensive investigation, only a fraction of these phage interactomes are known. Technical limitations and a lack of depth in many studies explain the gaps in our knowledge. Strategies to complete current interactome maps are described. Although limited space precludes detailed overviews of phage molecular biology, this compilation will allow future studies to put interaction data into the context of phage biology.
PMCID: PMC3461333  PMID: 22748812
4.  Phylogenetic structure and evolution of regulatory genes and integrases of P2-like phages 
Bacteriophage  2011;1(4):207-218.
The phylogenetic relationships and structural similarities of the proteins encoded within the regulatory region (containing the integrase gene and the lytic–lysogenic transcriptional switch genes) of P2-like phages were analyzed, and compared with the phylogenetic relationship of P2-like phages inferred from four structural genes. P2-like phages are thought to be one of the most genetically homogenous phage groups but the regulatory region nevertheless varies extensively between different phage genomes.
The analyses showed that there are many types of regulatory regions, but two types can be clearly distinguished; regions similar either to the phage P2 or to the phage 186 regulatory regions. These regions were also found to be most frequent among the sequenced P2-like phage or prophage genomes, and common in phages using Escherichia coli as a host. Both the phylogenetic and the structural analyses showed that these two regions are related. The integrases as well as the cox/apl genes show a common monophyletic origin but the immunity repressor genes, the type P2 C gene and the type 186 cI gene, are likely of different origin. There was no indication of recombination between the P2–186 types of regulatory genes but the comparison of the phylogenies of the regulatory region with the phylogeny based on four structural genes revealed recombinational events between the regulatory region and the structural genes.
Less common regulatory regions were phylogenetically heterogeneous and typically contained a fusion of genes from distantly related or unknown phages and P2-like genes.
PMCID: PMC3448106  PMID: 23050214
gamma-proteobacteria; lytic-lysogenic transcriptional switch; P2-like bacteriophages; peduovirinae; phage integration; phylogenetic analysis
5.  Crystal structure of the P2 C-repressor: a binder of non-palindromic direct DNA repeats 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(21):7778-7790.
As opposed to the vast majority of prokaryotic repressors, the immunity repressor of temperate Escherichia coli phage P2 (C) recognizes non-palindromic direct repeats of DNA rather than inverted repeats. We have determined the crystal structure of P2 C at 1.8 Å. This constitutes the first structure solved from the family of C proteins from P2-like bacteriophages. The structure reveals that the P2 C protein forms a symmetric dimer oriented to bind the major groove of two consecutive turns of the DNA. Surprisingly, P2 C has great similarities to binders of palindromic sequences. Nevertheless, the two identical DNA-binding helixes of the symmetric P2 C dimer have to bind different DNA sequences. Helix 3 is identified as the DNA-recognition motif in P2 C by alanine scanning and the importance for the individual residues in DNA recognition is defined. A truncation mutant shows that the disordered C-terminus is dispensable for repressor function. The short distance between the DNA-binding helices together with a possible interaction between two P2 C dimers are proposed to be responsible for extensive bending of the DNA. The structure provides insight into the mechanisms behind the mutants of P2 C causing dimer disruption, temperature sensitivity and insensitivity to the P4 antirepressor.
PMCID: PMC2995052  PMID: 20639540
6.  A comparison of the DNA binding and bending capacities and the oligomeric states of the immunity repressors of heteroimmune coliphages P2 and WΦ 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(10):3167-3180.
Bacteriophages P2 and WΦ are heteroimmune members of the P2-like family of temperate Escherichia coli phages. Temperate phages can grow lytically or form lysogeny after infection. A transcriptional switch that contains two con-vergent promoters, Pe and Pc, and two repressors regulate what life mode to enter. The immunity repressor C is the first gene of the lysogenic operon, and it blocks the early Pe promoter. In this work, some characteristics of the C proteins of P2 and WΦ are compared. An in vivo genetic analysis shows that WΦ C, like P2 C, has a strong dimerization activity in the absence of its DNA target. Both C proteins recognize two directly repeated sequences, termed half-sites and a strong bending is induced in the respective DNA target upon binding. P2 C is unable to bind to one half-site as opposed to WΦ, but both half-sites are required for repression of WΦ Pe. A reduction from three to two helical turns between the centers of the half-sites in WΦ has no significant effect on the capacity to repress Pe. However, the protein–DNA complexes formed differ, as determined by electrophoretic mobility shift experiments. A difference in spontaneous phage production is observed in isogenic lysogens.
PMCID: PMC1904263  PMID: 17485481
7.  Determination of the DNA-binding kinetics of three related but heteroimmune bacteriophage repressors using EMSA and SPR analysis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(10):3181-3191.
Bacteriophages P2, P2 Hy dis and WΦ are very similar but heteroimmune Escherichia coli phages. The structural genes show over 96% identity, but the repressors show between 43 and 63% identities. Furthermore, the operators, which contain two directly repeated sequences, vary in sequence, length, location relative to the promoter and spacing between the direct repeats. We have compared the in vivo effects of the wild type and mutated operators on gene expression with the complexes formed between the repressors and their wild type or mutated operators using electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA), and real-time kinetics of the protein–DNA interactions using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis. Using EMSA, the repressors formed different protein–DNA complexes, and only WΦ was significantly affected by point mutations. However, SPR analysis showed a reduced association rate constant and an increased dissociation rate constant for P2 and WΦ operator mutants. The association rate constants of P2 Hy dis was too fast to be determined. The P2 Hy dis dissociation response curves were shown to be triphasic, while both P2 and WΦ C were biphasic. Thus, the kinetics of complex formation and the nature of the complexes formed differ extensively between these very closely related phages.
PMCID: PMC1904268  PMID: 17412705
8.  Evolution of Immunity and Host Chromosome Integration Site of P2-Like Coliphages 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(11):3923-3935.
The amount and distribution of variation in the genomic region containing the genes in the lytic-lysogenic genetic switch and the sequence that determines the integration site into the host chromosome were analyzed for 38 P2-like phages from Escherichia coli. The genetic switch consists of two convergent mutually exclusive promoters, Pe and Pc, and two repressors, C and Cox. The immunity repressor C blocks the early Pe promoter, leading to the establishment of lysogeny. The Cox repressor blocks expression of Pc, allowing lytic growth. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the C and Cox proteins were distributed into seven distinct classes. The phylogenetic relationship differed between the two proteins, and we showed that homologous recombination plays a major role in creating alterations in the genetic switch, leading to new immunity classes. Analyses of the host integration site for these phages resulted in the discovery of a previously unknown site, and there were at least four regular integration sites. Interestingly, we found no case where phages of the same immunity class had different host attachment sites. The evolution of immunity and integration sites is complex, since it involves interactions both between the phages themselves and between phages and hosts, and often, both regulatory proteins and target DNA must change.
PMCID: PMC1482927  PMID: 16707684
9.  Identification of a Gene Encoding a Functional Reverse Transcriptase within a Highly Variable Locus in the P2-Like Coliphages 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(4):1643-1647.
The P2-like coliphages are highly similar; the structural genes show at least 96% identity. However, at two loci they have genes believed to be horizontally transferred. We show that the genetic content at the second loci, the TO region, contains six completely different sequences with high AT contents and with different open reading frames. The product of one of them exhibits reverse transcriptase activity and blocks infection of phage T5.
PMCID: PMC1367236  PMID: 16452449
10.  The Multifunctional Bacteriophage P2 Cox Protein Requires Oligomerization for Biological Activity 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(23):6714-6723.
The Cox protein of bacteriophage P2 is a multifunctional protein of 91 amino acids. It is directly involved in the site-specific recombination event leading to excision of P2 DNA out of the host chromosome. In this context, it functions as an architectural protein in the formation of the excisome. Cox is also a transcriptional repressor of the P2 Pc promoter, thereby ensuring lytic growth. Finally it promotes derepression of prophage P4, a nonrelated defective satellite phage, by activating the P4 PLL promoter that controls P4 DNA replication. In this case it binds upstream of the PLL promoter, which normally is activated by the P4 Delta protein. In this work we have analyzed the native form of the Cox protein in vivo, using a bacteriophage λ cI-based oligomerization assay system, and in vitro, using gel filtration, cross-linking agents, and gel retardation assays. We found that P2 Cox has a strong oligomerization function in vivo as well as in vitro. The in vitro analysis indicates that its native form is a tetramer that can self-associate to octamers. Furthermore we show that oligomerization is necessary for the biological activity by characterizing different cox mutants and that oligomerization is mediated by the C-terminal region.
PMCID: PMC111415  PMID: 11073917
11.  The Interaction of Bacteriophage P2 B Protein with Escherichia coli DnaB Helicase 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(9):4057-4063.
Bacteriophage P2 requires several host proteins for lytic replication, including helicase DnaB but not the helicase loader, DnaC. Some genetic studies have suggested that the loading is done by a phage-encoded protein, P2 B. However, a P2 minichromosome containing only the P2 initiator gene A and a marker gene can be established as a plasmid without requiring the P2 B gene. Here we demonstrate that P2 B associates with DnaB. This was done by using the yeast two-hybrid system in vivo and was confirmed in vitro, where 35S-labeled P2 B bound specifically to DnaB adsorbed to Q Sepharose beads and monoclonal antibodies directed against the His-tagged P2 B protein were shown to coprecipitate the DnaB protein. Finally, P2 B was shown to stabilize the opening of a reporter origin, a reaction that is facilitated by the inactivation of DnaB. In this respect, P2 B was comparable to λ P protein, which is known to be capable of binding and inactivating the helicase while acting as a helicase loader. Even though P2 B has little similarity to other known or predicted helicase loaders, we suggest that P2 B is required for efficient loading of DnaB and that this role, although dispensable for P2 plasmid replication, becomes essential for P2 lytic replication.
PMCID: PMC111919  PMID: 10756017
12.  The Transcriptional Switch of Bacteriophage WΦ, a P2-Related but Heteroimmune Coliphage 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(12):9816-9826.
Phage WΦ is a member of the nonlambdoid P2 family of temperate phages. The DNA sequence of the whole early-control region and the int and attP region of phage WΦ has been determined. The phage integration site was located at 88.6 min of the Escherichia coli K-12 map, where a 47-nucleotide sequence was found to be identical in the host and phage genomes. The WΦ Int protein belongs to the Int family of site-specific recombinases, and it seems to have the same arm binding recognition sequence as P2 Int, but the core sequence differs. The transcriptional switch contains two face-to-face promoters, Pe and Pc, and two repressors, C and Cox, controlling Pe and Pc, respectively. The early Pe promoter was found to be much stronger than the Pc promoter. Furthermore, the Pe transcript was shown to interfere with Pc transcription. By site-directed mutagenesis, the binding site of the immunity repressor was located to two direct repeats spanning the Pe promoter. A point mutation in one or the other repeat does not affect repression by C, but when it is included in both, C has no effect on the Pe promoter. The Cox repressor efficiently blocks expression from the Pc promoter, but its DNA recognition sequence was not evident. Most members of the P2 family of phages are able to function as helpers for satellite phage P4, which lacks genes encoding structural proteins and packaging and lysis functions. In this work it is shown that P4 E, known to function as an antirepressor by binding to P2 C, also turns the transcriptional switch of WΦ from the lysogenic to the lytic mode. However, in contrast to P2 Cox, WΦ Cox is unable to activate the P4 Pll promoter.
PMCID: PMC113030  PMID: 10559293

Results 1-12 (12)