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The 3-dimensional structure of the nucleocapsid (NC) of bacteriophage φ6 is described utilizing component tree analysis, a topological and geometric image descriptor. The component trees are derived from density maps of cryo-electron microscopy single particle reconstructions. Analysis determines position and occupancy of structure elements responsible for RNA packaging and transcription. Occupancy of the hexameric nucleotide triphosphorylase (P4) and RNA polymerase (P2) are found to be essentially complete in the NC. The P8 protein lattice likely fixes P4 and P2 in place during maturation. We propose that the viral procapsid (PC) is a dynamic structural intermediate where the P4 and P2 can attach and detach until held in place in mature NCs. During packaging, the PC expands to accommodate the RNA, and P2 translates from its original site near the inner 3-fold axis (20 sites) to the inner 5-fold axis (12 sites) with excess P2 positioned inside the central region of the NC.


This article was originally published in PLoS ONE, available at pone.0188858.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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