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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Infecting bacteriophage mu DNA forms a circular DNA-protein complex.

Upon superinfection of immune (lysogenic) cells with bacteriophage Mu, a form of Mu DNA accumulates that sediments about twice as fast as the linear phage DNA marker in neutral sucrose gradients. This form is also detected upon infection of sensitive cells with Mu. We have purified it and examined its physical nature. Under the electron microscope it appears circular and supertwisted. Upon treatment with Pronase, phenol or sodium dodecyl sulfate, however, it is converted to a linear Mu-length form, indicating that the circle is not covalently closed. The linear DNA still has heterogeneous host sequences at its termini. The circular DNA is resistant to the action of Escherichia coli exonuclease III and T7 exonuclease, but becomes sensitive to these nucleases after treatment with Pronase showing the presence of a protein that binds non-covalently to the ends of the DNA to circularize it as well as protect it from digestion with exonucleases. The complex is resistant to high salt (up to 6 M-NaCl) but can undergo transitions between forms that are partially open, open circular, linear and circular dimers and trimers. Examination of DNA from mature phage particles reveals that a circular DNA species is present in at least 0.1 to 1% of the population. The purified complex is extremely efficient in transfection of E. coli spheroplasts. We estimate the molecular weight of the protein in this DNA-protein complex to be approximately 64,000, and suggest that this complex might represent the integrative precursor of infecting Mu DNA.[1]


  1. Infecting bacteriophage mu DNA forms a circular DNA-protein complex. Harshey, R.M., Bukhari, A.I. J. Mol. Biol. (1983) [Pubmed]
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