Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Missing Tailed Phages: Prediction of Small Capsid Candidates

Version 1 : Received: 29 October 2020 / Approved: 2 November 2020 / Online: 2 November 2020 (11:05:49 CET)

How to cite: Luque, A.; Benler, S.; Lee, D.; Brown, C.; White, S. The Missing Tailed Phages: Prediction of Small Capsid Candidates. Preprints 2020, 2020110024 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202011.0024.v1). Luque, A.; Benler, S.; Lee, D.; Brown, C.; White, S. The Missing Tailed Phages: Prediction of Small Capsid Candidates. Preprints 2020, 2020110024 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202011.0024.v1).

Abstract

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.

Subject Areas

Bacteriophage, tailed phages; icosahedral capsids; capsid modeling; statistical learning; isolated genomes; metagenome-assembled genomes.

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