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Formation of bacteriophage MS2 infectious units in a cell-free translation system.
We show that a simple cell-free translation system from Escherichia coli, programmed with phage MS2 RNA, is able to infect F+ E. coli cells. The plaques appearing on the E. coli host strain are morphologically indistinguishable from those derived from normal phage MS2 infection. This effect is strictly translation-dependent, since an incomplete translation system or the system inhibited by antibiotics leads to no infection. The cell-free based infection is maximal under conditions favouring the highest synthesis of maturation protein (one of the four phage-encoded proteins). The infection is abolished when RNase A or trypsin treatment is included before addition of cells. Similarly, due to RNA and maturation protein degradation, the continued incubation of the translation mixture under protein synthesis conditions significantly decreases infectivity. These findings suggest the formation of 'minimal infectious units', simple complexes of MS2 RNA and maturation protein. Here we describe the first example of bacteriophage infectious unit formation directly performed in a cell-free translation system. A possible application of this phenomenon might be the construction of newly designed RNA vector delivery systems and, moreover, could be an approach for molecular evolution studies.
Capsid/biosynthesis, Cell-Free System, Levivirus/genetics, Levivirus/metabolism, Morphogenesis, Protein Biosynthesis, RNA, Viral/genetics, RNA, Viral/metabolism, Ribonuclease, Pancreatic/metabolism, Trypsin/metabolism, Viral Plaque Assay, Viral Proteins/biosynthesis, Virus Assembly
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