Phage Structure Captured, to Benefit Biotech Applications
Published:17 Jul.2023    Source:University of Exeter
New insights into the structure of phages will enable researchers to develop new uses for the viruses in biotechnology. Researchers have mapped out what a commonly-used form of phage looks like, which will help researchers design better uses in future.
Phage display works by linking a gene fragment of interest to a phage gene that makes one of the phage coat proteins. The new coat protein with the linked protein of interest appears on the surface of the phage, where it can be assayed and tested for biological activity. Billions of types of phages exist. Phage display often uses a type of phage known as filamentous, so called because they are long and thin, making the display of many proteins across its surface possible.
For the first time, Dr Vicki Gold at the University of Exeter, has revealed the structure of a filamentous phage, in research published in the journal Nature Communications. Because filamentous phages are so long, scientists have previously failed to capture an image of their entirety. To image the phage, researchers created smaller versions, which are around 10-fold shorter, which look like straight nanorods rather than entangled spaghetti-like filaments. This mini version was small enough to be imaged in its entirety using high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy.