Biologists have worked with the lambda virus as a model system for more than 50 years but they’ve never had an overarching picture of the molecular machines that allow it to insert or remove DNA from the cells that it infects. Now they can, thanks to an advance that highlights the intriguingly intricate way the virus accomplishes its genetic manipulations.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For half a century biologists have studied the way that the lambda virus parks DNA in the chromosome of a host E. coli bacterium and later extracts it as a model reaction of genetic recombination. But for all that time, they could never produce an overall depiction of the protein-DNA machines that carry out the work. In a pair of back-to-back papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists produce those long-sought renderings and describe how they figured out what they should look like. (more…)