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Title: Coat Protein Mutations That Alter the Flux of Morphogenetic Intermediates through the ϕX174 Early Assembly Pathway
ABSTRACT Two scaffolding proteins orchestrate ϕX174 morphogenesis. The internal scaffolding protein B mediates the formation of pentameric assembly intermediates, whereas the external scaffolding protein D organizes 12 of these intermediates into procapsids. Aromatic amino acid side chains mediate most coat-internal scaffolding protein interactions. One residue in the internal scaffolding protein and three in the coat protein constitute the core of the B protein binding cleft. The three coat gene codons were randomized separately to ascertain the chemical requirements of the encoded amino acids and the morphogenetic consequences of mutation. The resulting mutants exhibited a wide range of recessive phenotypes, which could generally be explained within a structural context. Mutants with phenylalanine, tyrosine, and methionine substitutions were phenotypically indistinguishable from the wild type. However, tryptophan substitutions were detrimental at two sites. Charged residues were poorly tolerated, conferring extreme temperature-sensitive and lethal phenotypes. Eighteen lethal and conditional lethal mutants were genetically and biochemically characterized. The primary defect associated with the missense substitutions ranged from inefficient internal scaffolding protein B binding to faulty procapsid elongation reactions mediated by external scaffolding protein D. Elevating B protein concentrations above wild-type levels via exogenous, cloned-gene expression compensated for inefficient B protein binding, as did suppressing mutations more » within gene B. Similarly, elevating D protein concentrations above wild-type levels or compensatory mutations within gene D suppressed faulty elongation. Some of the parental mutations were pleiotropic, affecting multiple morphogenetic reactions. This progressively reduced the flux of intermediates through the pathway. Accordingly, multiple mechanisms, which may be unrelated, could restore viability. IMPORTANCE Genetic analyses have been instrumental in deciphering the temporal events of many biochemical pathways. However, pleiotropic effects can complicate analyses. Vis-à-vis virion morphogenesis, an improper protein-protein interaction within an early assembly intermediate can influence the efficiency of all subsequent reactions. Consequently, the flux of assembly intermediates cumulatively decreases as the pathway progresses. During morphogenesis, ϕX174 coat protein participates in at least four well-defined reactions, each one characterized by an interaction with a scaffolding or structural protein. In this study, genetic analyses, biochemical characterizations, and physiological assays, i.e., elevating the protein levels with which the coat protein interacts, were used to elucidate pleiotropic effects that may alter the flux of intermediates through a morphogenetic pathway. « less
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Journal of Virology
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National Science Foundation
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