Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Phage nucleic acid transport is atypical among membrane transport and thus poses a fascinating problem: transport is unidirectional; it concerns a unique molecule the size of which may represent 50 times that of the bacterium. The rate of DNA transport can reach values as high as 3 to 4 thousands base pairs/sec. This raises many questions, which will be addressed in this review. Is there a single mechanism of transport for all types of phages? How does the phage genome overcome the hydrophobic barrier of the host envelope? Is DNA transported as a free molecule or in association with proteins? Is such transport dependent on phage and/or host cell components? What is the driving force for transport? Data will be presented for a few selected tailed phages, which are the most common type of phages and for which DNA transport has been most extensively studied. Part of the review is devoted to recent in vitro data which have allowed to partly decipher the mechanism of phage T5 DNA transport.