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J Biol Chem. 2001 Feb 2;276(5):3408-16. Epub 2000 Oct 9.

DNA structure and aspartate 276 influence nucleotide binding to human DNA polymerase beta. Implication for the identity of the rate-limiting conformational change.

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Laboratory of Structural Biology, NIEHS, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Structures of DNA polymerase (pol) beta bound to single-nucleotide gapped DNA had revealed that the lyase and pol domains form a "doughnut-shaped" structure altering the dNTP binding pocket in a fashion that is not observed when bound to non-gapped DNA. We have investigated dNTP binding to pol beta-DNA complexes employing steady-state and pre-steady-state kinetics. Although pol beta has a kinetic scheme similar to other DNA polymerases, polymerization by pol beta is limited by at least two partially rate-limiting steps: a conformational change after dNTP ground-state binding and product release. The equilibrium binding constant, K(d)((dNTP)), decreased and the insertion efficiency increased with a one-nucleotide gapped DNA substrate, as compared with non-gapped DNA. Valine substitution for Asp(276), which interacts with the base of the incoming nucleotide, increased the binding affinity for the incoming nucleotide indicating that the negative charge contributed by Asp(276) weakens binding and that an interaction between residue 276 with the incoming nucleotide occurs during ground-state binding. Since the interaction between Asp(276) and the nascent base pair is observed only in the "closed" conformation of pol beta, the increased free energy in ground-state binding for the mutant suggests that the subsequent rate-limiting conformational change is not the "open" to "closed" structural transition, but instead is triggered in the closed pol conformation.

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