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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Sep 1;347(3):626-33. Epub 2006 Jul 5.

Mechanism of nucleotide incorporation in DNA polymerase beta.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 120 Hayden Hall, Philadelphia, USA.


DNA polymerases play a central role in the mechanisms of DNA replication and repair. Here, we report mechanisms of the beta-polymerase catalyzed phosphoryl transfer reactions corresponding to correct and incorrect nucleotide incorporations in the DNA. Based on energy minimizations, molecular dynamics simulations, and free energy calculations of solvated ternary complexes of pol beta and by employing a mixed quantum mechanics molecular mechanics Hamiltonian, we have uncovered the identities of transient intermediates in the phosphoryl transfer pathways. Our study has revealed that an intriguing Grotthuss hopping mechanism of proton transfer involving water and three conserved aspartate residues in pol beta's active site mediates the phosphoryl transfer in the correct as well as misincorporation of nucleotides. The significance of this catalytic step in serving as a kinetic check point of polymerase fidelity may be unique to DNA polymerase beta, and is discussed in relation to other known mechanisms of DNA polymerases.

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