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Gene 33 protein (gp33) is a transcriptional coactivator for late genes of the T4 bacteriophage. gp33 possesses a 5-helix bundle core, with unstructured N- and C-terminal regions that account for >50% of the protein sequence. It plays a unique role of interacting with host RNA polymerase, couples transcription with DNA replication, and plays the dual function as repressor and co-activator in phage transcription. Here, we identify protein structural plasticity as the molecular basis of the dual nature in gp33. We find that gp33 has the peculiar property of remaining protease insensitive in its urea-unfolded state. Using NMR studies with spectroscopic measurements, we propose that intra-protein interactions are replaced by protein-urea interactions in gp33. This process not only unfolds gp33 but also renders it protease-resistant. Our studies shed new light on the unique structural malleability of gp33 that might be important in its transition from a repressor to a late transcription co-activator. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Radhakrishnan Mahalakshmi, Svetlana Rajkumar Maurya, Bhawna Burdak, Parini Surti, Manoj S Patel, Vikas Jain. Structural plasticity of T4 transcription co-activator gp33 revealed by a protease-resistant unfolded state. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. 2017 Oct 07;492(1):61-66

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PMID: 28807826

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