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Subcellular organization of viral particles during maturation of nucleus-forming jumbo phage


Many eukaryotic viruses assemble mature particles within distinct subcellular compartments, but bacteriophages are generally assumed to assemble randomly throughout the host cell cytoplasm. Here, we show that viral particles of Pseudomonas nucleus-forming jumbo phage PhiPA3 assemble into a unique structure inside cells we term phage bouquets. We show that after capsids complete DNA packaging at the surface of the phage nucleus, tails assemble and attach to capsids, and these particles accumulate over time in a spherical pattern, with tails oriented inward and the heads outward to form bouquets at specific subcellular locations. Bouquets localize at the same fixed distance from the phage nucleus even when it is mispositioned, suggesting an active mechanism for positioning. These results mark the discovery of a pathway for organizing mature viral particles inside bacteria and demonstrate that nucleus-forming jumbo phages, like most eukaryotic viruses, are highly spatially organized during all stages of their lytic cycle.

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