A novel mechanism of virus-virus interactions: bacteriophage P2 Tin protein inhibits phage T4 DNA synthesis by poisoning the T4 single-stranded DNA binding protein, gp32

Virology. 1997 Mar 31;230(1):72-81. doi: 10.1006/viro.1997.8464.


P2 prophages have been known to inhibit DNA replication and growth of T-even phages. We show here that this inhibition is due to poisoning of the T-even single-stranded DNA binding protein gp32 by the product of the nonessential P2 tin gene. Synthesis of Tin protein from a gene cloned in a multicopy plasmid is necessary and sufficient to completely prevent de novo DNA replication and growth of wild-type T2 or T4 phage. We isolated more than 20 independent mutants that render T-even phages resistant to poisoning by the P2 Tin protein. In all of these mutants, which we call asp, Asp codon 163 of gene 32 is changed to a Gly or Asn codon. The mutant alleles are recessive; i.e., when wild-type and asp mutants coinfect the same host cells, most DNA replication is poisoned by P2 Tin protein. To explain our results, we propose that the P2 Tin protein interacts with T-even gp32 at position 163 and distorts the helical filament of gene 32 protein on single-stranded DNA. Thereby Tin protein inhibits either assembly or function, or both, of the T4 replisome. The inhibition of late gene expression by P2 Tin protein may be an indirect consequence of inhibition of DNA replication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage P2 / metabolism*
  • Bacteriophage T4 / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / metabolism
  • DNA, Viral / biosynthesis*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • Genes, Viral
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nucleic Acid Synthesis Inhibitors*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • DNA, Viral
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nucleic Acid Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Viral Proteins
  • gp32 protein, Enterobacteria phage T4

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X99628