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

Genetic complementation by cloned bacteriophage T4 late genes.

Bacteriophage T4 containing nonsense mutations in late genes was found to be genetically complemented by four conjugate T4 genes (7, 11, 23, or 24) located on plasmid or phage vectors. Complementation was at a very low level unless the infecting phage carried a denB mutation (which abolishes T4 DNA endonuclease IV activity). In most experiments, the infecting phage also had a denA mutation, which abolishes T4 DNA endonuclease II activity. Mutations in the alc/unf gene (which allow dCMP-containing T4 late genes to be expressed) further increased complementation efficiency. Most of the alc/unf mutant phage strains used for these experiments were constructed to incorporate a gene 56 mutation, which blocks dCTP breakdown and allows replication to generate dCMP-containing T4 DNA. Effects of the alc/unf:56 mutant combination on complementation efficiency varied among the different T4 late genes. Despite regions of homology, ranging from 2 to 14 kilobase pairs, between cloned T4 genes and infecting genomes, the rate of formation of recombinants after T4 den:alc phage infection was generally low (higher for two mutants in gene 23, lower for mutants in gene 7 and 11). More significantly, when gene 23 complementation had to be preceded by recombination, the complementation efficiency was drastically reduced. We conclude that high complementation efficiency of cloned T4 late genes need not depend on prior complete breakage-reunion events which transpose those genes from the resident plasmid to a late promoter on the infecting T4 genome. The presence of the intact gene 23 on plasmids reduced the yield of T4 phage. The magnitude of this negative complementation effect varied in different plasmids; in the extreme case (plasmid pLA3), an almost 10-fold reduction of yield was observed. The cells can thus be said to have been made partly nonpermissive for this lytic virus by incorporating a part of the viral genome.[1]


  1. Genetic complementation by cloned bacteriophage T4 late genes. Jacobs, K.A., Albright, L.M., Shibata, D.K., Geiduschek, E.P. J. Virol. (1981) [Pubmed]
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