Structure, proteome and genome of Sinorhizobium meliloti phage ΦM5: A virus with LUZ24-like morphology and a highly mosaic genome

J Struct Biol. 2017 Dec;200(3):343-359. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2017.08.005. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


Bacteriophages of nitrogen-fixing rhizobial bacteria are revealing a wealth of novel structures, diverse enzyme combinations and genomic features. Here we report the cryo-EM structure of the phage capsid at 4.9-5.7Å-resolution, the phage particle proteome, and the genome of the Sinorhizobium meliloti-infecting Podovirus ΦM5. This is the first structure of a phage with a capsid and capsid-associated structural proteins related to those of the LUZ24-like viruses that infect Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Like many other Podoviruses, ΦM5 is a T=7 icosahedron with a smooth capsid and short, relatively featureless tail. Nonetheless, this group is phylogenetically quite distinct from Podoviruses of the well-characterized T7, P22, and epsilon 15 supergroups. Structurally, a distinct bridge of density that appears unique to ΦM5 reaches down the body of the coat protein to the extended loop that interacts with the next monomer in a hexamer, perhaps stabilizing the mature capsid. Further, the predicted tail fibers of ΦM5 are quite different from those of enteric bacteria phages, but have domains in common with other rhizophages. Genomically, ΦM5 is highly mosaic. The ΦM5 genome is 44,005bp with 357bp direct terminal repeats (DTRs) and 58 unique ORFs. Surprisingly, the capsid structural module, the tail module, the DNA-packaging terminase, the DNA replication module and the integrase each appear to be from a different lineage. One of the most unusual features of ΦM5 is its terminase whose large subunit is quite different from previously-described short-DTR-generating packaging machines and does not fit into any of the established phylogenetic groups.

Keywords: Alphaproteobacteria; Bacteriophage; Cryo-EM; Genome; Icosahedral; LUZ24 phage; Podovirus; Proteome; Rhizophage tail fiber; Short direct terminal repeat; Sinorhizobium meliloti; T=7 capsid geometry; Terminase; phiM5; ΦM12; ΦM5; ΦM9.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / chemistry*
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Bacteriophages / metabolism
  • Capsid / chemistry*
  • Capsid / ultrastructure
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Phylogeny
  • Sinorhizobium meliloti / virology*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virion


  • Viral Proteins
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases
  • terminase