The mobility of packaged phage genome controls ejection dynamics

Alex Evilevitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cell decision between lytic and lysogenic infection is strongly influenced by dynamics of DNA injection into a cell from a phage population, as phages compete for limited resources and progeny. However, what controls the timing of viral DNA ejection events was not understood. This in vitro study reveals that DNA ejection dynamics for phages can be synchronized (occurring within seconds) or desynchronized (displaying minutes-long delays in initiation) based on mobility of encapsidated DNA, which in turn is regulated by environmental factors, such as temperature and extra-cellular ionic conditions. This mechano-regulation of ejection dynamics is suggested to influence viral replication where the cell's decision between lytic and latent infection is associated with synchronized or desynchronized delayed ejection events from phage population adsorbed to a cell. Our findings are of significant importance for understanding regulatory mechanisms of latency in phage and Herpesviruses, where encapsidated DNA undergoes a similar mechanical transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere37345
Number of pages21
StatePublished - Sep 4 2018


  • calorimetry
  • DNA ejection dynamics
  • DNA pressure
  • DNA transition
  • infectious disease
  • latent and lytic infection
  • microbiology
  • molecular biophysics
  • phage
  • structural biology
  • virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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