Regulation of coat protein polymerization by the scaffolding protein of bacteriophage P22

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In the morphogenesis of double stranded DNA phages, a precursor protein shell empty of DNA is first assembled and then filled with DNA. The assembly of the correctly dimensioned precursor shell (procapsid) of Salmonella bacteriophage P22 requires the interaction of some 420 coat protein subunits with approximately 200 scaffolding protein subunits to form a double shelled particle with the scaffolding protein on the inside. In the course of DNA packaging, all of the scaffolding protein subunits exit from the procapsid and participate in further rounds of procapsid assembly (King and Casjens. 1974. Nature (Lond.). 251:112–119). To study the mechanism of shell assembly we have purified the coat and scaffolding protein subunits by selective dissociation of isolated procapsids. Both proteins can be obtained as soluble subunits in Tris buffer at near neutral pH. The coat protein sedimented in sucrose gradients as a roughly spherical monomer, while the scaffolding protein sedimented as if it were an elongated monomer. When the two proteins were mixed together in 1.5 M guanidine hydrochloride and dialyzed back to buffer at room temperature, procapsids formed which were very similar in morphology, sedimentation behavior, and protein composition to procapsids formed in vivo. Incubation of either protein alone under the same conditions did not yield any large structures. We interpret these results to mean that the assembly of the shell involves a switching of both proteins from their nonaggregating to their aggregating forms through their mutual interaction. The results are discussed in terms of the general problem of self-regulated assembly and the control of protein polymerization in morphogenesis. © 1980, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.




Fuller, M. T., & King, J. (1980). Regulation of coat protein polymerization by the scaffolding protein of bacteriophage P22. Biophysical Journal, 32(1), 381–401.

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