Protein composition of the tail and contracted sheath of bacteriophage T4

Robert C. Dickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The protein composition of phage T4 tails and tail precursors has been examined using acrylamide gel electrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate. Sheathed tails contain 18 protein species. The precursor to a sheathed tail consists of the baseplate and tail tube, but lacks an extended sheath. It has the same protein composition as the sheathed tail except that it lacks the gene 18 product (P18). This is the only protein in extended sheaths. Contracted sheaths isolated from whole phage also contain only P18. Baseplates, the precursors to unsheathed tails, have the same protein composition as unsheathed tails except that they lack P19. Thus tail tubes are composed of P19. The size of P18 is the same before and after sheath contraction. Whatever the mechanism of the irreversible contractions process is, it does not involve any detectable cleavage of P18.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1974

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I thank Dr. Frederick A. Eiserling for his advice and encouragement during the course of this work. This research was supported by grant GB-13117 to Dr. Eiserling from the National Science Foundation, by the Cancer Research Fund of the University of California, and by grants GM-06965 and AI-09238 from the U.S. Public Health Service to Dr. William B. Wood. I was supported by a U.S. Public Health Service grant GM-133143 and a postdoctoral fellowship (1 FOZ GM-4991% 01).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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