Genetic and physical analysis of the bacteriophage P22 tail protein

John Joseph Schwarz, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


A plasmid based genetic system was developed for the tail protein of the Salmonella typhimurium bacteriophage P22 and used to isolate and characterize tail protein mutants. The tail protein is a trimeric structural protein of the phage and an endorhamnosidase whose activity is essential for infection. The gene for the tail protein has previously been cloned into a plasmid expression vector and sequenced. A plate complementation assay for tail protein produced from the cloned gene was developed and used to isolate 27 tail protein mutants following mutagenesis of the cloned gene. These mutations were mapped into 12 deletion intervals using deletions which were made on plasmids in vitro and crossed onto P22. The base substitutions were determined by DNA sequencing. The majority of mutants had missense or nonsense mutations in the protein coding portion of the gene; however four of the mutants were in the putative transcription terminator. The oligomeric state of tail protein from the 15 missense mutants was investigated using SDS and nondenaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of cell lysates. Wild-type tail protein retains its trimeric structure in SDS gels at room temperature. Two of the mutant proteins also migrated as trimers in SDS gels, yet one of these had a considerably faster mobility than wild-type trimer. Its migration was the same as wild-type in a nondenaturing gel, so it is thought to be a trimer which is partially denatured by SDS. Four of the mutants produced proteins which migrate at the position of a monomer in an SDS gel but cannot be seen on a nondenaturing gel. These proteins are thought to be either monomers or soluble aggregates which cannot enter the nondenaturing gel. The remainder of mutants produce protein which is degraded. The mutant tail protein which had normal trimeric mobility on SDS and nondenaturing gels was purified. This protein has essentially wild-type ability to attach to phage capsids, but its endorhamnosidase activity is only 4% of wild-type.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Schwarz, John Joseph, "Genetic and physical analysis of the bacteriophage P22 tail protein" (1988). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8826292.