Double-stranded DNA bacteriophage prohead protease is homologous to herpesvirus protease

Protein Sci. 2004 Aug;13(8):2260-9. doi: 10.1110/ps.04726004.


Double-stranded DNA bacteriophages and herpesviruses assemble their heads in a similar fashion; a pre-formed precursor called a prohead or procapsid undergoes a conformational transition to give rise to a mature head or capsid. A virus-encoded prohead or procapsid protease is often required in this maturation process. Through computational analysis, we infer homology between bacteriophage prohead proteases (MEROPS families U9 and U35) and herpesvirus protease (MEROPS family S21), and unify them into a procapsid protease superfamily. We also extend this superfamily to include an uncharacterized cluster of orthologs (COG3566) and many other phage or bacteria-encoded hypothetical proteins. On the basis of this homology and the herpesvirus protease structure and catalytic mechanism, we predict that bacteriophage prohead proteases adopt the herpesvirus protease fold and exploit a conserved Ser and His residue pair in catalysis. Our study provides further support for the proposed evolutionary link between dsDNA bacteriophages and herpesviruses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacteriophages / enzymology*
  • DNA
  • Endopeptidases / chemistry*
  • Endopeptidases / classification
  • Herpesviridae / enzymology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid*
  • Viral Core Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Core Proteins / classification
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Proteins / classification


  • Viral Core Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA
  • Endopeptidases