The acid-stable capsid structures of Helicobacter pylori phages KHP30 and KHP40 are solved at 2.7 and 3.0 Å resolutions by cryoelectron microscopy, respectively. The capsids have icosahedral T = 9 symmetry and consist of each 540 copies of 2 structural proteins, a major capsid protein, and a cement protein. The major capsid proteins form 12 pentagonal capsomeres occupying icosahedral vertexes and 80 hexagonal capsomeres located at icosahedral faces and edges. The major capsid protein has a unique protruding loop extending to the neighboring subunit that stabilizes hexagonal capsomeres. Furthermore, the capsid is decorated with trimeric cement proteins with a jelly roll motif. The cement protein trimer sits on the quasi-three-fold axis formed by three major capsid protein capsomeres, thereby enhancing the particle stability by connecting these capsomeres. Sequence and structure comparisons between the related Helicobacter pylori phages suggest a possible mechanism of phage adaptation to the human gastric environment.
Keywords: Helicobacter pylori bacteriophage; capsid structure; cryoelectron microscopy; near-atomic resolution; single-particle analysis.
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