Translation limits synthesis of an assembly-initiating coat protein of filamentous phage IKe.
Translation is shown to be downregulated sharply between genes V and VII of IKe, a filamentous bacteriophage classed with the Ff group (phages f1, M13, and fd) but having only 55% DNA sequence identity to it. Genes V and VII encode the following proteins which are used in very different amounts: pV, used to coat the large number of viral DNA molecules prior to assembly, and pVII, used to serve as a cap with pIX in 3 to 5 copies on the end of the phage particle that emerges first from Escherichia coli. The genes are immediately adjacent to each other and are represented in the same amounts on the Ff and IKe mRNAs. Ff gene VII has an initiation site that lacks detectable intrinsic activity yet through coupling is translated at a level 10-fold lower than that of upstream gene V. The experiments reported reveal that by contrast, the IKe gene VII initiation site had detectable activity but was coupled only marginally to upstream translation. The IKe gene V and VII initiation sites both showed higher activities than the Ff sites, but the drop in translation at the IKe V-VII junction was unexpectedly severe, approximately 75-fold. As a result, gene VII is translated at similarly low levels in IKe- and Ff-infected hosts, suggesting that selection to limit its expression has occurred.
Madison-Antenucci, S; Steege, DA
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