Michael Feiss, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology

Email: michael-feiss@uiowa.edu

photo of Michael Feiss

Virus DNA Packaging

We are studying how a virus, the E. coli bacteriophage lambda, packages DNA during assembly of the viral particle. We are interested in DNA-DNA and DNA-protein interactions involved in DNA packaging and the mechanism of DNA translocation. For recognition of lambda DNA from a pool that includes host DNA, terminase, the viral DNA packaging protein, binds to a site on lambda DNA called cosB. Terminase also (1) binds the prohead, the empty protein shell into which DNA is to be packaged, (2) nicks the DNA at the cosN site, which is adjacent to cosB, to generate the cohesive ends of mature viral DNA, and (3) is the ATPase that powers translocation of the DNA into the protein head shell.

One current project is a genetic and biochemical study of the role of terminase in DNA translocation. A second project is a study of a novel site located between cosN and cosB that is important for DNA packaging. A third project is a study of the cosB site of phage N15, a close relative of phage lambda which has a significantly different cos recognition requirement.