Protein-protein interactions at a DNA replication fork: bacteriophage T4 as a model

FASEB J. 1992 Feb 1;6(3):871-8. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.6.3.1310946.


The DNA replication system of bacteriophage T4 serves as a relatively simple model for the types of reactions and protein-protein interactions needed to carry out and coordinate the synthesis of the leading and lagging strands of a DNA replication fork. At least 10 phage-encoded proteins are required for this synthesis: T4 DNA polymerase, the genes 44/62 and 45 polymerase accessory proteins, gene 32 single-stranded DNA binding protein, the genes 61, 41, and 59 primase-helicase, RNase H, and DNA ligase. Assembly of the polymerase and the accessory proteins on the primed template is a stepwise process that requires ATP hydrolysis and is strongly stimulated by 32 protein. The 41 protein helicase is essential to unwind the duplex ahead of polymerase on the leading strand, and to interact with the 61 protein to synthesize the RNA primers that initiate each discontinuous fragment on the lagging strand. An interaction between the 44/62 and 45 polymerase accessory proteins and the primase-helicase is required for primer synthesis on 32 protein-covered DNA. Thus it is possible that the signal for the initiation of a new fragment by the primase-helicase is the release of the polymerase accessory proteins from the completed adjacent fragment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Ligases / physiology
  • DNA Primase
  • DNA Replication / physiology*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • RNA Nucleotidyltransferases / physiology
  • Ribonuclease H / physiology
  • T-Phages / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / physiology


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • gp32 protein, Enterobacteria phage T4
  • DNA Primase
  • RNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Ribonuclease H
  • DNA Ligases