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Research Article

Protein P7 of the Cystovirus φ6 Is Located at the Three-Fold Axis of the Unexpanded Procapsid


The objective of this study was to determine the location of protein P7, the RNA packaging factor, in the procapsid of the φ6 cystovirus. A comparison of cryo-electron microscopy high-resolution single particle reconstructions of the φ6 complete unexpanded procapsid, the protein P2-minus procapsid (P2 is the RNA directed RNA-polymerase), and the P7-minus procapsid, show that prior to RNA packaging the P7 protein is located near the three-fold axis of symmetry. Difference maps highlight the precise position of P7 and demonstrate that in P7-minus particles the P2 proteins are less localized with reduced densities at the three-fold axes. We propose that P7 performs the mechanical function of stabilizing P2 on the inner protein P1 shell which ensures that entering viral single-stranded RNA is replicated.