Characterization of a defective phage system for the analysis of bacteriophage T4 DNA replication origins.
We have developed a defective phage system for the isolation and analysis of phage T4 replication origins based on the T4-mediated transduction of plasmid pBR322. During the initial infection of a plasmid-containing cell, recombinant plasmids with T4 DNA inserts are converted into fully modified linear DNA concatamers that are packaged into T4 phage particles, to create defective phage (transducing particles). In order to select T4 replication origins from genomic libraries of T4 sequences cloned into the plasmid pBR322, we searched for recombinant plasmids that transduce with an unusually high efficiency, reasoning that this should select for T4 sequences that function as origins on plasmid DNA after phage infection. We also selected for defective phage that can propagate efficiently with the aid of a coinfecting helper phage during subsequent rounds of phage infection, which should select for T4 sequences that can function as origins on the linear DNA present in the defective phage. Several T4 inserts were isolated repeatedly in one or both of these selective procedures, and these were mapped to particular locations on the T4 genome. When plasmids were selected in this way from genomic libraries constructed using different restriction nucleases, they contained overlapping segments of the T4 genome, indicating that the same T4 sequences were selected. The inserts in two of the selected plasmids permit a very high frequency of transduction from circular plasmids; these have been shown to contain a special type of T4 replication origin.
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