A viral genome packaging motor transitions between cyclic and helical symmetry to translocate dsDNA

Michael Woodson, Joshua Pajak, Wei Zhao, Wei Zhang, Gaurav Arya, Mark A. White, Paul J. Jardine, Marc C. Morais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Molecular segregation and biopolymer manipulation require the action of molecular motors to do work by applying directional forces to macromolecules. The additional strand conserved E (ASCE) ring motors are an ancient family of molecular motors responsible for diverse tasks ranging from biological polymer manipulation (e.g. protein degradation and chromosome segregation) to establishing and maintaining proton gradients across mitochondrial membranes. Viruses also utilize ASCE segregation motors to package their genomes into their protein capsids and serve as accessible experimental systems due to their relative simplicity. We show by CryoEM focused image reconstruction that ASCE ATPases in viral dsDNA packaging motors adopt helical symmetry complementary to their dsDNA substrates. Together with previous data, including structural results showing these ATPases in planar ring conformations, our results suggest that these motors cycle between helical and planar cyclical symmetry, providing a possible mechanism for directional translocation of DNA. We further note that similar changes in quaternary structure have been observed for proteasome and helicase motors, suggesting an ancient and common mechanism of force generation that has been adapted for specific tasks over the course of evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 23 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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