Bacteriophage AR9 and its close relative PBS1 have been extensively used to construct early Bacillus subtilis genetic maps. Here, we present the 251,042bp AR9 genome, a linear, terminally redundant double-stranded DNA containing deoxyuridine instead of thymine. Multiple AR9 genes are interrupted by non-coding sequences or sequences encoding putative endonucleases. We show that these sequences are group I and group II self-splicing introns. Eight AR9 proteins are homologous to fragments of bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) subunits β/β'. These proteins comprise two sets of paralogs of RNAP largest subunits, with each paralog encoded by two disjoint phage genes. Thus, AR9 is a phiKZ-related giant phage that relies on two multisubunit viral RNAPs to transcribe its genome independently of host transcription apparatus. Purification of one of PBS1/AR9 RNAPs has been reported previously, which makes AR9 a promising object for further studies of RNAP evolution, assembly and mechanism.
Keywords: Bacillus subtilis; Bacteriophage; Evolution; Genome; Introns; RNA polymerase; Transcription.
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