Protein-nucleic acid interactions in bacteriophage phi 29 DNA replication

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 1995 Aug;17(1-2):73-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.1995.tb00189.x.


phi 29 DNA replication starts at both DNA ends by a protein priming mechanism. The formation of the terminal protein-dAMP initiation complex is directed by the second nucleotide from the 3' end of the template. The transition from protein-primed initiation to normal DNA elongation has been proposed to occur by a sliding-back mechanism that is necessary for maintaining the sequences at the phi 29 DNA ends. Structure-function studies have been carried out in the phi 29 DNA polymerase. By site-directed mutagenesis of amino acids conserved among distantly related DNA polymerases we have shown that the N-terminal domain of phi 29 DNA polymerase contains the 3'-5' exonuclease activity and the strand-displacement capacity, whereas the C-terminal domain contains the synthetic activities (protein-primed initiation and DNA polymerization). Viral protein p6 stimulates the initiation of phi 29 DNA replication. The structure of the protein p6-DNA complex has been determined, as well as the main signals at the phi 29 DNA ends recognized by protein p6. The DNA binding domain of protein p6 has been studied. The results indicate that an alpha-helical structure located in the N-terminal region of protein p6 is involved in DNA binding through the minor groove. The phi 29 protein p5 is the single-stranded DNA binding (SSB) protein involved in phi 29 DNA replication, by binding to the displaced single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) in the replication intermediates. In addition, protein p5 is able to unwind duplex DNA. The properties of the phi 29 SSB-ssDNA complex are described. Using the four viral proteins, terminal protein, DNA polymerase, protein p6 and the SSB protein, it was possible to amplify the 19,285-bp phi 29 DNA molecule by a factor of 4000 after 1 h of incubation at 30 degrees C. The infectivity of the in vitro amplified DNA was identical to that of phi 29 DNA obtained from virions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus Phages / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / physiology
  • Gene Amplification
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Replication*


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase