Structural responsiveness of filamentous bacteriophage Pf1: comparison of virion structure in fibers and solution. The effect of temperature and ionic strength

Biophys J. 1987 Aug;52(2):199-214. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(87)83207-1.


X-ray diffraction from fibers and magnetically oriented solutions has been used to study the effect of changes in environment on the helical symmetry and radial structure of the Pf1 virus particle. Detailed analysis of equatorial scattering to a spacing of 8-10 A was used to identify small radial motions of structural elements in the virus particle. R-factor ratios were used to determine the statistical significance of observed changes. Comparison of the structure of virus particles in fibers with those in solution indicated that the helical symmetry of the virions remains unchanged during fiber formation. In most fibers the virions appear to be slightly distorted by the tight packing of virus particles. This distortion results in an apparent increase in the radius of the virus particle of approximately 0.6 A. A change in the radius of the DNA is also observed. Increase in the concentration of solvent molecules during fiber formation results in penetration of the virus interior by some solvent components. NaCl is also able to enter the virus interior. The change in the helical symmetry of the virions at approximately 8 degrees C appears to be the same whether observed by diffraction from fibers or from solutions. Only subtle changes in radial structure are associated with the temperature transition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Coliphages / ultrastructure*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Biological
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Solutions
  • Thermodynamics
  • Virion / ultrastructure*
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Solutions