Role of DNA-DNA interactions on the structure and thermodynamics of bacteriophages Lambda and P4.


Electrostatic interactions play an important role in both packaging of DNA inside bacteriophages and its release into bacterial cells. While at physiological conditions DNA strands repel each other, the presence of polyvalent cations such as spermine and spermidine in solutions leads to the formation of DNA condensates. In this study, we discuss packaging of DNA into bacteriophages P4 and Lambda under repulsive and attractive conditions using a coarse-grained model of DNA and capsids. Packaging under repulsive conditions leads to the appearance of the coaxial spooling conformations; DNA occupies all available space inside the capsid. Under the attractive potential both packed systems reveal toroidal conformations, leaving the central part of the capsids empty. We also present a detailed thermodynamic analysis of packaging and show that the forces required to pack the genomes in the presence of polyamines are significantly lower than those observed under repulsive conditions. The analysis reveals that in both the repulsive and attractive regimes the entropic penalty of DNA confinement has a significant non-negligible contribution into the total energy of packaging. Additionally we report the results of simulations of DNA condensation inside partially packed Lambda. We found that at low densities DNA behaves as free unconfined polymer and condenses into the toroidal structures; at higher densities rearrangement of the genome into toroids becomes hindered, and condensation results in the formation of non-equilibrium structures. In all cases packaging in a specific conformation occurs as a result of interplay between bending stresses experienced by the confined polymer and interactions between the strands.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jsb.2010.11.007
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@article{Petrov2011RoleOD, title={Role of DNA-DNA interactions on the structure and thermodynamics of bacteriophages Lambda and P4.}, author={Anton S. Petrov and Stephen C. Harvey}, journal={Journal of structural biology}, year={2011}, volume={174 1}, pages={137-46} }