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Role of antifeeding prophage (Afp) protein Afp16 in terminating the length of the Afp tailocin and stabilizing its sheath

Rybakova D, Radjainia M, Turner A, Sen A, Mitra AK, Hurst MR.
Mol Microbiol. 2013 Aug;89(4):702-14

The Serratia entomophila antifeeding prophage Afp, forms a phage-tail-like particle that acts on the New Zealand grass grub, Costelytra zealandica with a 3-day LD50 of approximately 500 Afp particles per larva. Genes (afp1-18) encoding components of Afp were expressed and their products purified allowing morphological assessment of the products by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Expression of afp1-15 resulted in the formation of a non-sheathed structure termed the tube-baseplate complex or TBC, composed of an irregular-length tube attached to a baseplate with associated tail fibres. Expression of afp1-16 produced mature, normal-length Afp particles, whereas coexpression of afp16 with afp1-15 in trans resulted in the formation of aberrant Afp particles of variable lengths. A C-terminally truncated Afp16 mutant resulted in a phenotype intermediate between mature Afp and TBC. The addition of purified Afp16 to Afp unravelled by acidic treatment resulted in the formation of shorter tubes when specimen pH was adjusted to 7 than those formed in the absence of Afp16. Analysis of TEM images of purified Afp16 revealed a hexameric ring-like structure similar to that formed by gp3 of phage T4 and gpU of phage λ. Our results suggest that Afp16 terminates tube elongation and is involved in sheath formation.

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