Structure of the connector of bacteriophage T7 at 8A resolution: structural homologies of a basic component of a DNA translocating machinery

J Mol Biol. 2005 Apr 15;347(5):895-902. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2005.02.005.


The three-dimensional structure of the bacteriophage T7 head-to-tail connector has been obtained at 8A resolution using cryo-electron microscopy and single-particle analysis from purified recombinant connectors. The general morphology of the T7 connector is that of a 12-folded toroidal homopolymer with a channel that runs along the longitudinal axis of the particle. The structure of the T7 connector reveals many structural similarities with the connectors from other bacteriophages. Docking of the atomic structure of the varphi29 connector into the three-dimensional reconstruction of T7 connector reveals that the narrow, distal region of the two oligomers are almost identical. This region of the varphi29 connector has been suggested to be involved in DNA translocation, and is composed of an alpha-beta-alpha-beta-beta-alpha motif. A search for alpha-helices in the same region of the T7 three-dimensional map has located three alpha-helices in approximately the same position as those of the varphi29 connector. A comparison of the predicted secondary structure of several bacteriophage connectors, including among others T7, varphi29, P22 and SPP1, reveals that, despite the lack of sequence homology, they seem to contain the same alpha-beta-alpha-beta-beta-alpha motif as that present in the varphi29 connector. These results allow us to suggest a common architecture related to a basic component of the DNA translocating machinery for several viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage T7 / chemistry*
  • Bacteriophage T7 / ultrastructure*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Structural Homology, Protein
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Viral Proteins / ultrastructure*


  • DNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins