Genomic sequence and analysis of the atypical temperate bacteriophage N15

J Mol Biol. 2000 May 26;299(1):53-73. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.2000.3731.


N15 is a temperate bacteriophage that forms stable lysogens in Escherichia coli. While its virion is morphologically very similar to phage lambda and its close relatives, it is unusual in that the prophage form replicates autonomously as a linear DNA molecule with closed hairpin telomeres. Here, we describe the genomic architecture of N15, and its global pattern of gene expression, which reveal that N15 contains several plasmid-derived genes that are expressed in N15 lysogens. The tel site, at which processing occurs to form the prophage ends is close to the center of the genome in a similar location to that occupied by the attachment site, attP, in lambda and its relatives and defines the boundary between the left and right arms. The left arm contains a long cluster of structural genes that are closely related to those of the lambda-like phages, but also includes homologs of umuD', which encodes a DNA polymerase accessory protein, and the plasmid partition genes, sopA and sopB. The right arm likewise contains a mixture of apparently phage- and plasmid-derived genes including genes encoding plasmid replication functions, a phage repressor, a transcription antitermination system, as well as phage host cell lysis genes and two putative DNA methylases. The unique structure of the N15 genome suggests that the large global population of bacteriophages may exhibit a much greater diversity of genomic architectures than was previously recognized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriolysis
  • Bacteriophage lambda / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / enzymology
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Bacteriophages / ultrastructure
  • Base Composition
  • Base Sequence
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Escherichia coli / virology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Viral / genetics*
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Lysogeny / genetics
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Response Elements / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Terminator Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins