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The minor capsid protein VP11 of thermophilic bacteriophage P23-77 facilitates virus assembly by using lipid-protein interactions

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7593-7603
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Thermus thermophilus bacteriophage P23-77 is the type member of a new virus family of icosahedral, tailless, inner-membranecontaining double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses infecting thermophilic bacteria and halophilic archaea. The viruses have a unique capsid architecture consisting of two major capsid proteins assembled in various building blocks. We analyzed the function of the minor capsid protein VP11, which is the third known capsid component in bacteriophage P23-77. Our findings show that VP11 is a dynamically elongated dimer with a predominantly α-helical secondary structure and high thermal stability. The high proportion of basic amino acids in the protein enables electrostatic interaction with negatively charged molecules, including nucleic acid and large unilamellar lipid vesicles (LUVs). The plausible biological function of VP11 is elucidated by demonstrating the interactions of VP11 with Thermus-derived LUVs and with the major capsid proteins by means of the dynamic-lightscattering technique. In particular, the major capsid protein VP17 was able to link VP11-complexed LUVs into larger particles, whereas the other P23-77 major capsid protein, VP16, was unable to link VP11-comlexed LUVs. Our results rule out a previously suggested penton function for VP11. Instead, the electrostatic membrane association of VP11 triggers the binding of the major capsid protein VP17, thus facilitating a controlled incorporation of the two different major protein species into the assembling capsid.

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