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Biochemistry. 1999 Nov 30;38(48):16001-9.

Two functional domains of the epsilon subunit of DNA polymerase III.

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Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.


The epsilon subunit is the 3'-->5' proofreading exonuclease that associates with the alpha and theta subunits in the E. coli DNA polymerase III. Two fragments of the epsilon protein were prepared, and binding of these epsilon fragments with alpha and theta was investigated using gel filtration chromatography and exonuclease stimulation assays. The N-terminal fragment of epsilon, containing amino acids 2-186 (epsilon186), is a relatively protease-resistant core domain of the exonuclease. The purified recombinant epsilon186 protein catalyzes the cleavage of 3' terminal nucleotides, demonstrating that the exonuclease domain of epsilon is present in the N-terminal region of the protein. The absence of the C-terminal 57 amino acids of epsilon in the epsilon186 protein reduces the binding affinity of epsilon186 for alpha by at least 400-fold relative to the binding affinity of epsilon for alpha. In addition, stimulation of the epsilon186 exonuclease by alpha using a partial duplex DNA is about 50-fold lower than stimulation of the epsilon exonuclease by alpha. These results indicate that the C-terminal region of epsilon is required in the epsilonalpha association. To directly demonstrate that the C-terminal region of epsilon contains the alpha-association domain fusion protein, constructs containing the maltose-binding protein (MBP) and fragments of the C-terminal region of epsilon were prepared. Gel filtration analysis demonstrates that the alpha-association domain of epsilon is contained within the C-terminal 40 amino acids of epsilon. Also, the epsilon186 protein forms a tight complex with theta, demonstrating that the association of theta with epsilon is localized to the N-terminal region of epsilon. Association of epsilon186 and theta is further supported by the stimulation of the epsilon186 exonuclease in the presence of theta. These data support the concept that epsilon contains a catalytic domain located within the N-terminal region and an alpha-association domain located within the C-terminal region of the protein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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