NMR structure of a vestigial nuclease provides insight into the evolution of functional transitions in viral dsDNA packaging motors

Bryon P. Mahler, Pawel Bujalowski, Huzhang Mao, Erik A. Dill, Paul J. Jardine, Kay H. Choi, Marc C. Morais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Double-stranded DNA viruses use ATP-powered molecular motors to package their genomes. To do so, these motors must efficiently transition between initiation, translocation, and termination modes. Here, we report structural and biophysical analyses of the C-terminal domain of the bacteriophage phi29 ATPase (CTD) that suggest a structural basis for these functional transitions. Sedimentation experiments show that the inter-domain linker in the full-length protein promotes dimerization and thus may play a role in assembly of the functional motor. The NMR solution structure of the CTD indicates it is a vestigial nuclease domain that likely evolved from conserved nuclease domains in phage terminases. Despite the loss of nuclease activity, fluorescence binding assays confirm the CTD retains its DNA binding capabilities and fitting the CTD into cryoEM density of the phi29 motor shows that the CTD directly binds DNA. However, the interacting residues differ from those identified by NMR titration in solution, suggesting that packaging motors undergo conformational changes to transition between initiation, translocation, and termination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 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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