Structure and morphogenesis of bacteriophage T4

P. G. Leiman, S. Kanamaru, V. V. Mesyanzhinov, F. Arisaka, M. G. Rossmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Bacteriophage T4 is one of the most complex viruses. More than 40 different proteins form the mature virion, which consists of a protein shell encapsidating a 172-kbp double-stranded genomic DNA, a 'tail,' and fibers, attached to the distal end of the tail. The fibers and the tail carry the host cell recognition sensors and are required for attachment of the phage to the cell surface. The tail also serves as a channel for delivery of the phage DNA from the head into the host cell cytoplasm. The tail is attached to the unique 'portal' vertex of the head through which the phage DNA is packaged during head assembly. Similar to other phages, and also herpes viruses, the unique vertex is occupied by a dodecameric portal protein, which is involved in DNA packaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2356-2370
Number of pages15
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacteriophage T4
  • Baseplate
  • Contractile tail
  • DNA packaging
  • Fibrous protein
  • Phage infection
  • Prolate head capsid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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