Assembly of the bacteriophage T4 helicase: Architecture and stoichiometry of the gp41-gp59 complex

Faoud T. Ishmael, Stephen C. Alley, Stephen J. Benkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The bacteriophage T4 59 protein (gp59) plays an essential role in recombination and replication by mediating the assembly of the gene 41 helicase (gp41) onto DNA. gp59 is required to displace the gp32 singlestranded binding protein on the lagging strand to expose a site for helicase binding. To gain a better understanding of the mechanism of helicase assembly, the architecture and stoichiometry of the gp41-gp59 complex were investigated. Both the N and C termini of gp41 were found to lie close to or in the gp41-gp41 subunit interface and interact with gp59. The site of interaction of gp41 on gp59 is proximal to Cys-215 of gp59. Binding of gp41 to gp59 stimulates a conformational change in the protein resulting in hexamer formation of gp59, and gp59 likewise stimulates oligomer formation of gp41. The gp59 subunits in this complex are arranged in a head to head orientation, such that Cys-42 of one subunit is in close proximity to Cys-42 on an adjacent subunit, and Cys-215 on one subunit is close to Cys-215 on a neighboring subunit. As the helicase is loaded onto DNA, a conformational change in the gp41-gp59 complex occurs, which may serve to displace gp32 from the lagging strand and load the hexameric helicase in its place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20555-20562
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 7 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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