Structure and transformation of bacteriophage A511 baseplate and tail upon infection of Listeria cells

Ricardo C. Guerrero-Ferreira, Mario Hupfeld, Sergey Nazarov, Nicholas M.I. Taylor, Mikhail M. Shneider, Jagan M. Obbineni, Martin J. Loessner, Takashi Ishikawa, Jochen Klumpp, Petr G. Leiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Contractile injection systems (bacteriophage tails, type VI secretions system, R-type pyocins, etc.) utilize a rigid tube/contractile sheath assembly for breaching the envelope of bacterial and eukaryotic cells. Among contractile injection systems, bacteriophages that infect Gram-positive bacteria represent the least understood members. Here, we describe the structure of Listeria bacteriophage A511 tail in its pre- and post-host attachment states (extended and contracted, respectively) using cryo-electron microscopy, cryo-electron tomography, and X-ray crystallography. We show that the structure of the tube-baseplate complex of A511 is similar to that of phage T4, but the A511 baseplate is decorated with different receptor-binding proteins, which undergo a large structural transformation upon host attachment and switch the symmetry of the baseplate-tail fiber assembly from threefold to sixfold. For the first time under native conditions, we show that contraction of the phage tail sheath assembly starts at the baseplate and propagates through the sheath in a domino-like motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere99455
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • X-ray crystallography
  • bacteriophage attachment
  • contractile injection system
  • cryo-electron microscopy
  • host cell recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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