The mcp gene encoding the major capsid protein (Mcp) of vibriophage KVP40, a large-tailed DNA phage, was cloned and sequenced. The nucleotide sequence of the mcp gene was 64.4% similar to that of gene 23 of coliphage T4. Analysis of the N-terminal amino acid sequence of purified native Mcp revealed that the mcp gene actually coded for a precursor, pro-Mcp, whose 62 N-terminal amino acids must be removed upon maturation to Mcp. Thus, mature Mcp would consist of 452 amino acid residues and have a calculated molecular mass of 47,561 Da. Comparison of amino acid sequences of Mcp and gp23*, the major capsid protein of T4, demonstrated 61.8% identity and 89.7% similarity between them in addition, a sequence, TATAAATA, identical to a typical T4 late promoter sequence was seen in the region upstream of the mcp gene. These findings, together with their morphological similarity, suggest that KVP40 and T4 are phylogenetically related.
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