Journal of Theoretical Medicine
Volume 6 (2005), Issue 2, Pages 127-134

RNA Multimerisation in the DNA Packaging Motor of Bacteriophage φ29

Jonathan P. A. Wood,1,2 Stephanie A. Capaldi,1,3 Mark A. Robinson,1 Andrew J. Baron,1 and Nicola J. Stonehouse1

1Faculty of Biological Sciences, Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
2Materials Today, Elsevier, The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, OX5 1GB, UK
3Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, 227 Hildebrand Hall #3206, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The use of bacteriophages as experimental tools allows the investigation of interactions between components at the molecular level that are often not possible in more complex virus systems. The bacteriophage φ29 acts as a molecular machine to package its own genomic DNA during viral assembly. Self-associating RNA molecules, called pRNA, have an essential role in the function of this machine. This paper reports the characterization of this self-association (which leads to multimerisation of wild-type and truncated variant pRNAs) by analytical ultracentrifugation (including determination of the partial specific volume of the pRNA), together with an investigation into the domains of the molecule important for multimerisation by the use of complementary DNA probes.