Electron cryo-tomographic structure of cystovirus phi 12

Virology. 2008 Mar 1;372(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2007.10.013. Epub 2007 Nov 26.


Bacteriophage phi 12 is a member of the Cystoviridae virus family and contains a genome consisting of three segments of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). This virus family contains eight identified members, of which four have been classified in regard to their complete genomic sequence and encoded viral proteins. A phospholipid envelope that contains the integral proteins P6, P9, P10, and P13 surrounds the viral particles. In species phi 6, host infection requires binding of a multimeric P3 complex to type IV pili. In species varphi8, phi 12, and phi 13, the attachment apparatus is a heteromeric protein assembly that utilizes the rough lipopolysaccharide (rlps) as a receptor. In phi 8 the protein components are designated P3a and P3b while in species phi 12 proteins P3a and P3c have been identified in the complex. The phospholipid envelope of the cystoviruses surrounds a nucleocapsid (NC) composed of two shells. The outer shell is composed of protein P8 with a T=13 icosahedral lattice while the primary component of the inner shell is a dodecahedral frame composed of dimeric protein P1. For the current study, the 3D architecture of the intact phi 12 virus was obtained by electron cryo-tomography. The nucleocapsid appears to be centered within the membrane envelope and possibly attached to it by bridging structures. Two types of densities were observed protruding from the membrane envelope. The densities of the first type were elongated, running parallel, and closely associated to the envelope outer surface. In contrast, the second density was positioned about 12 nm above the envelope connected to it by a flexible low-density stem. This second structure formed a torroidal structure termed "the donut" and appears to inhibit BHT-induced viral envelope fusion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods*
  • Cystoviridae / ultrastructure*
  • Pseudomonas syringae / virology
  • Tomography / methods*
  • Virion / ultrastructure