Structural characterization of bacteriophage M13 solubilization by amphiphiles

D. Stopar, R.B. Spruijt, C.J.A.M. Wolfs, M.A. Hemminga

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The structural properties of bacteriophage M13 during disassembly were studied in different membrane model systems, composed of a homologue series of the detergents sodium octyl sulfate, sodium decyl sulfate, and sodium dodecyl sulfate. The structural changes during phage disruption were monitored by spin-labeled electron spin resonance (ESR) and circular dichroism spectroscopy. For the purpose of ESR spectroscopy the major coat protein mutants V31C and G38C were site-directed spin labeled in the intact phage particle. These mutants were selected because the mutated sites are located in the hydrophobic part of the protein, and provide good reporting locations for phage integrity. All amphiphiles studied were capable of phage disruption. However, no significant phage disruption was detected below the critical micelle concentration of the amphiphile used. Based on this finding and the linear dependence of phage disruption by amphiphiles on the phage concentration, it is suggested that the solubilization of the proteins of the phage coat by amphiphiles starts with an attachment to and penetration of amphiphile molecules into the phage particle. The amphiphile concentration in the phage increases in proportion to the amphiphile concentration in the aqueous phase. Incorporation of the amphiphile in the phage particle is accompanied with a change in local mobility of the spin-labeled part of the coat protein and its secondary structure. With increasing the amphiphile concentration in the phage particle, a concentration is reached where the concentration of the amphiphile in the aqueous phase is around its critical micelle concentration. A further increase in amphiphile concentration results in massive phage disruption. Phage disruption by amphiphiles appears to be dependent on the phage coat mutations. It is concluded that phage disruption is dependent on a hydrophobic effect, since phage solubilization could significantly be increased by keeping the hydrophilic part of the amphiphile constant, while increasing its hydrophobic part.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
JournalBiochimica et biophysica acta-protein structure and molecular enzymology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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