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Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Apr;37(6):2037-52. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp064. Epub 2009 Feb 11.

Characterization of DNA polymerase X from Thermus thermophilus HB8 reveals the POLXc and PHP domains are both required for 3'-5' exonuclease activity.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan.


The X-family DNA polymerases (PolXs) comprise a highly conserved DNA polymerase family found in all kingdoms. Mammalian PolXs are known to be involved in several DNA-processing pathways including repair, but the cellular functions of bacterial PolXs are less known. Many bacterial PolXs have a polymerase and histidinol phosphatase (PHP) domain at their C-termini in addition to a PolX core (POLXc) domain, and possess 3'-5' exonuclease activity. Although both domains are highly conserved in bacteria, their molecular functions, especially for a PHP domain, are unknown. We found Thermus thermophilus HB8 PolX (ttPolX) has Mg(2+)/Mn(2+)-dependent DNA/RNA polymerase, Mn(2+)-dependent 3'-5' exonuclease and DNA-binding activities. We identified the domains of ttPolX by limited proteolysis and characterized their biochemical activities. The POLXc domain was responsible for the polymerase and DNA-binding activities but exonuclease activity was not detected for either domain. However, the POLXc and PHP domains interacted with each other and a mixture of the two domains had Mn(2+)-dependent 3'-5' exonuclease activity. Moreover, site-directed mutagenesis revealed catalytically important residues in the PHP domain for the 3'-5' exonuclease activity. Our findings provide a molecular insight into the functional domain organization of bacterial PolXs, especially the requirement of the PHP domain for 3'-5' exonuclease activity.

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