Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Dr. Gail Christie


Staphylococcal phage 80α can serve as a helper bacteriophage for a family of mobile genetic elements called Staphylococcus aureus pathogenicity islands (SaPIs). The prototype island, SaPI1, is able to hijack the 80α capsid assembly process and redirect capsid formation to yield smaller, phage-like transducing particles carrying SaPI DNA. Capsid size redirection is accomplished through two SaPI1-encoded gene products, CpmA and an alternate scaffold protein, CpmB. The normal 80α scaffold and the SaPI1 CpmB scaffold share a small block of conserved residues at their C-termini, several of which had been shown to be essential for CpmB function. This led to the hypothesis that the C-termini of both the phage and SaPI scaffolds interact in similar ways with the major capsid protein. The goal of this study was to test this hypothesis and to identify the amino acid residues at the capsid-scaffold interface, using a genetic approach.


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