Genes encoding the tail proteins of the temperate phage 16-3 of the symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti 41 have been identified. First, a new host range gene, designated hII, was localized by using missense mutations. The corresponding protein was shown to be identical to the 85-kDa tail protein by determining its N-terminal sequence. Electron microscopic analysis showed that phage 16-3 possesses an icosahedral head and a long, noncontractile tail characteristic of the Siphoviridae. By using a lysogenic S. meliloti 41 strain, mutants with insertions in the putative tail region of the genome were constructed and virion morphology was examined after induction of the lytic cycle. Insertions in ORF017, ORF018a, ORF020, ORF021, the previously described h gene, and hII resulted in uninfectious head particles lacking tail structures, suggesting that the majority of the genes in this region are essential for tail formation. By using different bacterial mutants, it was also shown that not only the RkpM and RkpY proteins but also the RkpZ protein of the host takes part in the formation of the phage receptor. Results for the host range phage mutants and the receptor mutant bacteria suggest that the HII tail protein interacts with the capsular polysaccharide of the host and that the tail protein encoded by the original h gene recognizes a proteinaceous receptor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology