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Nucleic Acids Res. Apr 1, 1999; 27(7): 1609–1618.
PMCID: PMC148363

DNA polymerase beta-like nucleotidyltransferase superfamily: identification of three new families, classification and evolutionary history.


A detailed analysis of the polbeta superfamily of nucleotidyltransferases was performed using computer methods for iterative database search, multiple alignment, motif analysis and structural modeling. Three previously uncharacterized families of predicted nucleotidyltransferases are described. One of these new families includes small proteins found in all archaea and some bacteria that appear to consist of the minimal nucleotidyltransferase domain and may resemble the ancestral state of this superfamily. Another new family that is specifically related to eukaryotic polyA polymerases is typified by yeast Trf4p and Trf5p proteins that are involved in chromatin remodeling. The TRF family is represented by multiple members in all eukaryotes and may be involved in yet unknown nucleotide polymerization reactions required for maintenance of chromatin structure. Another new family of bacterial and archaeal nucleotidyltransferases is predicted to function in signal transduction since, in addition to the nucleotidyltransferase domain, these proteins contain ligand-binding domains. It is further shown that the catalytic domain of gamma proteobacterial adenylyl cyclases is homologous to the polbeta superfamily nucleotidyltransferases which emphasizes the general trend for the origin of signal-transducing enzymes from those involved in replication, repair and RNA processing. Classification of the polbeta superfamily into distinct families and examination of their phyletic distribution suggests that the evolution of this type of nucleotidyltransferases may have included bursts of rapid divergence linked to the emergence of new functions as well as a number of horizontal gene transfer events.

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