Early antitermination in the atypical coliphage mEp021 mediated by the Gp17 protein

Arch Virol. 2023 Feb 16;168(3):92. doi: 10.1007/s00705-023-05721-w.


The coliphage mEp021 belongs to a phage group with a unique immunity repressor, and its life cycle requires the host factor Nus. mEp021 has been classified as non-lambdoid based on its specific characteristics. The mEp021 genome carries a gene encoding an Nλ-like antiterminator protein, termed Gp17, and three nut sites (nutL, nutR1, and nutR2). Analysis of plasmid constructs containing these nut sites, a transcription terminator, and a GFP reporter gene showed high levels of fluorescence when Gp17 was expressed, but not in its absence. Like lambdoid N proteins, Gp17 has an arginine-rich motif (ARM), and mutations in its arginine codons inhibit its function. In infection assays using the mutant phage mEp021ΔGp17::Kan (where gp17 has been deleted), gene transcripts located downstream of transcription terminators were obtained only when Gp17 was expressed. In contrast to phage lambda, mEp021 virus particle production was partially restored (>1/3 relative to wild type) when nus mutants (nusA1, nusB5, nusC60, and nusE71) were infected with mEp021 and Gp17 was overexpressed. Our results suggest that RNA polymerase reads through the third nut site (nutR2), which is more than 7.9 kbp downstream of nutR1.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage lambda / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Coliphages / genetics
  • Terminator Regions, Genetic*
  • Transcription, Genetic*