Bacteriophage T4 helicase loader protein gp59 functions as gatekeeper in origin-dependent replication in vivo.
Bacteriophage T4 initiates origin-dependent replication via an R-loop mechanism in vivo. During in vitro reactions, the phage-encoded gp59 stimulates loading of the replicative helicase, gp41, onto branched intermediates, including origin R-loops. However, although gp59 is essential for recombination-dependent replication from D-loops, it does not appear to be required for origin-dependent replication in vivo. In this study, we have analyzed the origin-replicative intermediates formed during infections that are deficient in gp59 and other phage replication proteins. During infections lacking gp59, the initial replication forks from two different T4 origins actively replicated both leading- and lagging-strands. However, the retrograde replication forks from both origins were abnormal in the gp59-deficient infections. The lagging-strand from the initial fork was elongated as a new leading-strand in the retrograde direction without lagging-strand synthesis, whereas in the wild-type, leading- and lagging-strand synthesis appeared to be coupled. These results imply that gp59 inhibits the polymerase holoenzyme in vivo until the helicase-primase (gp41-gp61) complex is loaded, and we thereby refer to gp59 as a gatekeeper. We also found that all origin-replicative intermediates were absent in infections deficient in the helicase gp41 or the single-strand-binding protein gp32, regardless of whether gp59 was present or absent. These results argue that replication from the origin in vivo is dependent on both the helicase and single-strand-binding protein and demonstrate that the strong replication defect of gene 41 and 32 single mutants is not caused by gp59 inhibition of the polymerase.
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