The DNA maturation domain of gpA, the DNA packaging motor protein of bacteriophage lambda, contains an ATPase site associated with endonuclease activity.
ABSTRACT: Terminase enzymes are common to double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses and are responsible for packaging viral DNA into the confines of an empty capsid shell. In bacteriophage lambda the catalytic terminase subunit is gpA, which is responsible for maturation of the genome end prior to packaging and subsequent translocation of the matured DNA into the capsid. DNA packaging requires an ATPase catalytic site situated in the N terminus of the protein. A second ATPase catalytic site associated with the DNA maturation activities of the protein has been proposed; however, direct demonstration of this putative second site is lacking. Here we describe biochemical studies that define protease-resistant peptides of gpA and expression of these putative domains in Escherichia coli. Biochemical characterization of gpA-DeltaN179, a construct in which the N-terminal 179 residues of gpA have been deleted, indicates that this protein encompasses the DNA maturation domain of gpA. The construct is folded, soluble and possesses an ATP-dependent nuclease activity. Moreover, the construct binds and hydrolyzes ATP despite the fact that the DNA packaging ATPase site in the N terminus of gpA has been deleted. Mutation of lysine 497, which alters the conserved lysine in a predicted Walker A "P-loop" sequence, does not affect ATP binding but severely impairs ATP hydrolysis. Further, this mutation abrogates the ATP-dependent nuclease activity of the protein. These studies provide direct evidence for the elusive nucleotide-binding site in gpA that is directly associated with the DNA maturation activity of the protein. The implications of these results with respect to the two roles of the terminase holoenzyme, DNA maturation and DNA packaging, are discussed.
Project description:Terminase enzymes are responsible for the excision of a single genome from a concatemeric precursor (genome maturation) and concomitant packaging of DNA into the capsid shell. Here, we demonstrate that lambda terminase can be purified as a homogeneous "protomer" species, and we present a kinetic analysis of the genome maturation and packaging activities of the protomeric enzyme. The protomer assembles into a distinct maturation complex at the cos sequence of a concatemer. This complex rapidly nicks the duplex to form the mature left end of the viral genome, which is followed by procapsid binding, activation of the packaging ATPase, and translocation of the duplex into the capsid interior by the terminase motor complex. Genome packaging by the protomer shows high fidelity with only the mature left end of the duplex inserted into the capsid shell. In sum, the data show that the terminase protomer exhibits catalytic activity commensurate with that expected of a bone fide genome maturation and packaging complex in vivo and that both catalytically competent complexes are composed of four terminase protomers assembled into a ringlike structure that encircles duplex DNA. This work provides mechanistic insight into the coordinated catalytic activities of terminase enzymes in virus assembly that can be generalized to all of the double-stranded DNA viruses.
Project description:The large terminase subunit is a central component of the genome packaging motor from tailed bacteriophages and herpes viruses. This two-domain enzyme has an N-terminal ATPase activity that fuels DNA translocation during packaging and a C-terminal nuclease activity required for initiation and termination of the packaging cycle. Here, we report that bacteriophage SPP1 large terminase (gp2) is a metal-dependent nuclease whose stability and activity are strongly and preferentially enhanced by Mn(2+) ions. Mutation of conserved residues that coordinate Mn(2+) ions in the nuclease catalytic site affect the metal-induced gp2 stabilization and impair both gp2-specific cleavage at the packaging initiation site pac and unspecific nuclease activity. Several of these mutations block also DNA encapsidation without affecting ATP hydrolysis or gp2 C-terminus binding to the procapsid portal vertex. The data are consistent with a mechanism in which the nuclease domain bound to the portal switches between nuclease activity and a coordinated action with the ATPase domain for DNA translocation. This switch of activities of the nuclease domain is critical to achieve the viral chromosome packaging cycle.
Project description:Genome packaging is strongly conserved in the complex double-stranded DNA viruses, including the herpesviruses and many bacteriophages. In these cases, viral DNA is packaged into a procapsid shell by a terminase enzyme. The packaging substrate is typically a concatemer composed of multiple genomes linked in a head-to-tail fashion, and terminase enzymes perform two essential functions: 1) excision of a unit length genome from the concatemer (genome maturation) and 2) translocation of the duplex into a procapsid (genome packaging). While the packaging motors have been described in some detail, the maturation complexes remain ill characterized. Here we describe the assembly, physical characteristics, and catalytic activity of the ?-genome maturation complex. The ?-terminase protomer is composed of one large catalytic subunit tightly associated with two DNA recognition subunits. The isolated protomer binds DNA weakly and does not discriminate between nonspecific DNA and duplexes that contain the packaging initiation sequence, cos. The Escherichia coli integration host factor protein (IHF) is required for efficient ?-development in vivo and a specific IHF recognition sequence is found within cos. We show that IHF and the terminase protomer cooperatively assemble at the cos site and that the small terminase subunit plays the dominant role in complex assembly. Analytical ultracentrifugation analysis reveals that the maturation complex is composed of four protomers and one IHF heterodimer bound at the cos site. Tetramer assembly activates the cos-cleavage nuclease activity of the enzyme, which matures the genome end in preparation for packaging. The stoichiometry and catalytic activity of the complex is reminiscent of the type IIE and IIF restriction endonucleases and the two systems may share mechanistic features. This study, to our knowledge, provides our first detailed glimpse into the structural and functional features of a viral genome maturation complex, an essential intermediate in the development of complex dsDNA viruses.
Project description:Terminase enzymes are viral motors that package DNA into a preformed capsid and are of interest both therapeutically and as potential nano-machines. The enzymes excise a single genome from a concatemeric precursor (genome maturation) and then package the duplex to near-crystalline density (genome packaging). The functional motors are oligomers of protomeric subunits and are the most powerful motors currently known. Here, we present mechanistic studies on the terminase motor from bacteriophage ?. We identify a mutant (K76R) that is specifically deficient in packaging activity. Biochemical analysis of this enzyme provides insight into the linkage between ATP hydrolysis and motor translocation. We further use this mutant to assemble chimeric motors with WT enzyme and characterize the catalytic activity of the complexes. The data demonstrate that strong coordination between the motor protomers is required for DNA packaging and that incorporation of even a single mutant protomer poisons motor activity. Significant coordination is similarly observed in the genome maturation reaction; however, although the motor is composed of a symmetric tetramer of protomers, the maturation complex is better described as a "dimer-of-dimers" with half-site reactivity. We describe a model for how the motor alternates between a stable genome maturation complex and a dynamic genome packaging complex. The fundamental features of coordinated ATP hydrolysis, DNA movement, and tight association between the motor and the duplex during translocation are recapitulated in all of the viral motors. This work is thus of relevance to all terminase enzymes, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic.
Project description:Packaging of viral genomes into empty procapsids is powered by a large DNA-packaging motor. In most viruses, this machine is composed of a large (L) and a small (S) terminase subunit complexed with a dodecamer of portal protein. Here we describe the 1.75 Å crystal structure of the bacteriophage P22 S-terminase in a nonameric conformation. The structure presents a central channel ?23 Å in diameter, sufficiently large to accommodate hydrated B-DNA. The last 23 residues of S-terminase are essential for binding to DNA and assembly to L-terminase. Upon binding to its own DNA, S-terminase functions as a specific activator of L-terminase ATPase activity. The DNA-dependent stimulation of ATPase activity thus rationalizes the exclusive specificity of genome-packaging motors for viral DNA in the crowd of host DNA, ensuring fidelity of packaging and avoiding wasteful ATP hydrolysis. This posits a model for DNA-dependent activation of genome-packaging motors of general interest in virology.
Project description:Phage DNA packaging is believed to be driven by a rotary device coupled to an ATPase 'motor'. Recent evidence suggests that the phage DNA packaging motor is one of the strongest force-generating molecular motors reported to date. However, the ATPase center that is responsible for generating this force is unknown. In order to identify the DNA translocating ATPase, the sequences of the packaging/terminase genes of coliphages T4 and RB49 and vibriophages KVP40 and KVP20 have been analyzed. Alignment of the terminase polypeptide sequences revealed a number of functional signatures in the terminase genes 16 and 17. Most importantly, the data provide compelling evidence for an ATPase catalytic center in the N-terminal half of the large terminase subunit gp17. An analogous ATPase domain consisting of conserved functional signatures is also identified in the large terminase subunit of other bacteriophages and herpesviruses. Interestingly, the putative terminase ATPase domain exhibits some of the common features found in the ATPase domain of DEAD box helicases. Residues that would be critical for ATPase catalysis and its coupling to DNA packaging are identified. Com binatorial mutagenesis shows that the predicted threonine residues in the putative ATPase coupling motif are indeed critical for function.
Project description:In genome packaging by tailed bacteriophages and herpesviruses, a concatemeric DNA is cut and inserted into an empty procapsid. A series of cuts follow the encapsidation of each unit-length 'headful' genome, but the mechanisms by which cutting is coupled to packaging are not understood. Here we report the first biochemical characterization of a headful nuclease from bacteriophage T4. Our results show that the T4 nuclease, which resides in the C-terminal domain of large 'terminase' gp17, is a weak endonuclease and regulated by a variety of factors; Mg, NaCl, ATP, small terminase gp16 and N-terminal ATPase domain. The small terminase, which stimulates gp17-ATPase, also stimulates nuclease in the presence of ATP but inhibits in the absence of ATP suggesting interdomain crosstalk. Comparison of the 'relaxed' and 'tensed' states of the motor show that a number of basic residues lining the nuclease groove are positioned to interact with DNA in the tensed state but change their positions in the relaxed state. These results suggest that conformational changes in the ATPase center remodel the nuclease center via an interdomain 'communication track'. This might be a common regulatory mechanism for coupling DNA cutting to DNA packaging among the headful packaging nucleases from dsDNA viruses.
Project description:DNA packaging in tailed bacteriophages and other viruses requires assembly of a complex molecular machine at a specific vertex of the procapsid. This machine is composed of the portal protein that provides a tunnel for DNA entry, an ATPase that fuels DNA translocation (large terminase subunit), and most frequently, a small terminase subunit. Here we characterized the interaction between the terminase ATPase subunit of bacteriophage SPP1 (gp2) and the procapsid portal vertex. We found, by affinity pulldown assays with purified proteins, that gp2 interacts with the portal protein, gp6, independently of the terminase small subunit gp1, DNA, or ATP. The gp2-procapsid interaction via the portal protein depends on gp2 concentration and requires the presence of divalent cations. Competition experiments showed that isolated gp6 can only inhibit gp2-procapsid interactions and DNA packaging at gp6:procapsid molar ratios above 10-fold. Assays with gp6 carrying mutations in distinct regions of its structure that affect the portal-induced stimulation of ATPase and DNA packaging revealed that none of these mutations impedes gp2-gp6 binding. Our results demonstrate that the SPP1 packaging ATPase binds directly to the portal and that the interaction is stronger with the portal embedded in procapsids. Identification of mutations in gp6 that allow for assembly of the ATPase-portal complex but impair DNA packaging support an intricate cross-talk between the two proteins for activity of the DNA translocation motor.
Project description:Many viruses use a powerful terminase motor to pump their genome inside an empty procapsid shell during virus maturation. The large terminase (TerL) protein contains both enzymatic activities necessary for packaging in such viruses: the adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) that powers DNA translocation and an endonuclease that cleaves the concatemeric genome at both initiation and completion of genome packaging. However, how TerL binds DNA during translocation and cleavage remains mysterious. Here we investigate DNA binding and cleavage using TerL from the thermophilic phage P74-26. We report the structure of the P74-26 TerL nuclease domain, which allows us to model DNA binding in the nuclease active site. We screened a large panel of TerL variants for defects in binding and DNA cleavage, revealing that the ATPase domain is the primary site for DNA binding, and is required for nuclease activity. The nuclease domain is dispensable for DNA binding but residues lining the active site guide DNA for cleavage. Kinetic analysis of DNA cleavage suggests flexible tethering of the nuclease domains during DNA cleavage. We propose that interactions with the procapsid during DNA translocation conformationally restrict the nuclease domain, inhibiting cleavage; TerL release from the capsid upon completion of packaging unlocks the nuclease domains to cleave DNA.
Project description:Tailed bacteriophages and herpes viruses use powerful molecular motors to translocate DNA into a preassembled prohead and compact the DNA to near crystalline density. The phage T4 motor, a pentamer of 70-kDa large terminase, gp17, is the fastest and most powerful motor reported to date. gp17 has an ATPase activity that powers DNA translocation and a nuclease activity that cuts concatemeric DNA and generates the termini of viral genome. An 18-kDa small terminase, gp16, is also essential, but its role in DNA packaging is poorly understood. gp16 forms oligomers, most likely octamers, exhibits no enzymatic activities, but stimulates the gp17-ATPase activity, and inhibits the nuclease activity. Extensive mutational and biochemical analyses show that gp16 contains three domains, a central oligomerization domain, and N- and C-terminal domains that are essential for ATPase stimulation. Stimulation occurs not by nucleotide exchange or enhanced ATP binding but by triggering hydrolysis of gp17-bound ATP, a mechanism reminiscent of GTPase-activating proteins. gp16 does not have an arginine finger but its interaction with gp17 seems to position a gp17 arginine finger into the catalytic pocket. gp16 inhibits DNA translocation when gp17 is associated with the prohead. gp16 restricts gp17-nuclease such that the putative packaging initiation cut is made but random cutting is inhibited. These results suggest that the phage T4 packaging machine consists of a motor (gp17) and a regulator (gp16). The gp16 regulator is essential to coordinate the gp17 motor ATPase, translocase, and nuclease activities, otherwise it could be suicidal to the virus.