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J Mol Biol. 2003 Jan 3;325(1):85-97.

phi29 DNA polymerase residue Phe128 of the highly conserved (S/T)Lx(2)h motif is required for a stable and functional interaction with the terminal protein.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma, Cantoblanco, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.


Bacteriophage phi29 encodes a DNA-dependent DNA polymerase belonging to the eukaryotic-type (family B) subgroup of DNA polymerases that use a protein as primer for initiation of DNA replication. By multiple sequence alignments of DNA polymerases from such a family, we have been able to identify two amino acid residues specifically conserved in the protein-priming subgroup of DNA polymerases, a phenylalanine contained in the (S/T)Lx(2)h motif, and a glutamate belonging to the Exo III motif. Here, we have studied the functional role of these residues in reactions that are specific for DNA polymerases that use a protein-primed DNA replication mechanism, by site-directed mutagenesis in the corresponding amino acid residues, Phe128 and Glu161 of phi29 DNA polymerase. Mutations introduced at residue Phe128 severely impaired the protein-primed replication capacity of the polymerase, being the interaction with the terminal protein (TP) moderately (mutant F128A) or severely (mutant F128Y) diminished. As a consequence, very few initiation products were obtained, and essentially no transition products were detected. Interestingly, phi29 DNA polymerase mutant F128Y showed a decreased binding affinity for short template DNA molecules. These results, together with the high degree of conservation of Phe128 residue among protein-primed DNA polymerases, suggest a functional role for this amino acid residue in making contacts with the TP during the first steps of genome replication and with DNA in the further replication steps.

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