Multiple roles of genome-attached bacteriophage terminal proteins

Virology. 2014 Nov;468-470:322-329. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2014.08.003. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


Protein-primed replication constitutes a generalized mechanism to initiate DNA or RNA synthesis in linear genomes, including viruses, gram-positive bacteria, linear plasmids and mobile elements. By this mechanism a specific amino acid primes replication and becomes covalently linked to the genome ends. Despite the fact that TPs lack sequence homology, they share a similar structural arrangement, with the priming residue in the C-terminal half of the protein and an accumulation of positively charged residues at the N-terminal end. In addition, various bacteriophage TPs have been shown to have DNA-binding capacity that targets TPs and their attached genomes to the host nucleoid. Furthermore, a number of bacteriophage TPs from different viral families and with diverse hosts also contain putative nuclear localization signals and localize in the eukaryotic nucleus, which could lead to the transport of the attached DNA. This suggests a possible role of bacteriophage TPs in prokaryote-to-eukaryote horizontal gene transfer.

Keywords: Bacteriophage; Horizontal gene transfer; Nuclear localization signal; Nucleoid; Protein-primed replication; Terminal protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Bacteriophages / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral / physiology*
  • Genome, Viral / physiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Replication


  • Viral Proteins