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The crystal structure of a bacteriophage T4 early gene product, Spackle, was determined by native sulfur single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD) phasing using synchrotron radiation and was refined to 1.52 Å resolution. The structure shows that Spackle consists of a bundle of five α-helices, forming a relatively flat disc-like overall shape. Although Spackle forms a dimer in the crystal, size-exclusion chromatography with multi-angle light scattering shows that it is monomeric in solution. Mass spectrometry confirms that purified mature Spackle lacks the amino-terminal signal peptide and contains an intramolecular disulfide bond, consistent with its proposed role in the periplasm of T4 phage-infected Escherichia coli cells. The surface electrostatic potential of Spackle shows a strikingly bipolar charge distribution, suggesting a possible mode of membrane association and inhibition of the tail lysozyme activity in T4 bacteriophage superinfection exclusion.

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PDB reference: bacteriophage T4 Spackle, 6x6o

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