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Phage packaging motor

An ATP-powered molecular motor is responsible for packaging the genome of linear double-stranded DNA viruses into the empty head during assembly. The motor comprises a large protein complex of three circular homo-oligomers which together have the capacity to generate translocation forces and speeds that are unparalleled amongst nature’s molecular motors. The structure and function of this molecular machine is not fully understood, in particular its parallels with other ATP-driven motors such as helicases and AAA+ proteins. Our structural studies are focussed on the characterisation of these three proteins: the portal protein, the large terminase and the small terminase.