We report the complete 36,717 bp genome sequence of bacteriophage Mu and provide an analysis of the sequence, both with regard to the new genes and other genetic features revealed by the sequence itself and by a comparison to eight complete or nearly complete Mu-like prophage genomes found in the genomes of a diverse group of bacteria. The comparative studies confirm that members of the Mu-related family of phage genomes are genetically mosaic with respect to each other, as seen in other groups of phages such as the phage lambda-related group of phages of enteric hosts and the phage L5-related group of mycobacteriophages. Mu also possesses segments of similarity, typically gene-sized, to genomes of otherwise non-Mu-like phages. The comparisons show that some well-known features of the Mu genome, including the invertible segment encoding tail fiber sequences, are not present in most members of the Mu genome sequence family examined here, suggesting that their presence may be relatively volatile over evolutionary time. The head and tail-encoding structural genes of Mu have only very weak similarity to the corresponding genes of other well-studied phage types. However, these weak similarities, and in some cases biochemical data, can be used to establish tentative functional assignments for 12 of the head and tail genes. These assignments are strongly supported by the fact that the order of gene functions assigned in this way conforms to the strongly conserved order of head and tail genes established in a wide variety of other phages. We show that the Mu head assembly scaffolding protein is encoded by a gene nested in-frame within the C-terminal half of another gene that encodes the putative head maturation protease. This is reminiscent of the arrangement established for phage lambda.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.