Lambdoid phage 21 requires the Escherichia coli integrative host factor (IHF) for growth. λ-21 hybrids that have 21 DNA packaging specificity also require IHF. IHF-independent (her) mutants have been isolated. her mutations map in the amino-terminal half of the 21 1 gene. The 1 gene encodes the small subunit of the 21 terminase, and the amino-terminal half of the 1 polypeptide is a functional domain for specifically binding 21 DNA. Hence changes in the DNA-binding domain of terminase, her mutations, render 21 terminase able to function in the absence of IHF. Three of four her mutations studied are trans-dominant. An in vitro system was used to show that packaging of 21 DNA is IHF-dependent. IHF is directly required during the early, terminase-dependent steps of assembly. It is concluded that IHF is a host factor required for function of the 21 terminase. It is proposed, in analogy to the role of IHF in λ integration, that IHF facilitates proper binding of 21 terminase to phage DNA. Consistent with this proposal, possible IHF-binding sites are present in the 21 cohesive end site. © 1985.
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