Luque, A.; Benler, S.; Lee, D.Y.; Brown, C.; White, S. The Missing Tailed Phages: Prediction of Small Capsid Candidates. Microorganisms2020, 8, 1944.
Luque, A.; Benler, S.; Lee, D.Y.; Brown, C.; White, S. The Missing Tailed Phages: Prediction of Small Capsid Candidates. Microorganisms 2020, 8, 1944.
Tailed phages are the most abundant and diverse group of viruses on the planet. Yet, the smallest tailed phages display relatively complex capsids and large genomes compared to other viruses. The lack of tailed phages forming the common icosahedral capsid architectures T = 1 and T = 3 is puzzling. Here, we extracted geometrical features from high-resolution tailed phage capsid reconstructions and built a statistical model based on physical principles to predict the capsid diameter and genome length of the missing small tailed phage capsids. We applied the model to 3,348 isolated tailed phage genomes and 1,496 gut metagenome-assembled tailed phage genomes. Four isolated tailed phages were predicted to form T = 3 icosahedral capsids, and twenty-one metagenome-assembled tailed phages were predicted to form T < 3 capsids. The smallest capsid predicted was a T = 4/3 ≈ 1.33 architecture. No tailed phages were predicted to form the smallest icosahedral architecture, T = 1. We discuss the feasibility of the missing T = 1 tailed phage capsids and the implications of isolating and characterizing small tailed phages for viral evolution and phage therapy.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.