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J Biol Chem. 1990 Aug 25;265(24):14347-54.

DNA helicase from calf thymus. Purification to apparent homogeneity and biochemical characterization of the enzyme.

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Department of Pharmacology and Biochemistry, University of Zürich-Irchel, Switzerland.


We have purified a DNA helicase from calf thymus to apparent homogeneity by monitoring the activity with a strand displacement assay. DNA helicase followed the DNA polymerase alpha-primase complex through chromatography on phosphocellulose and hydroxylapatite. Separation from DNA polymerase alpha-primase complex as well as from the bulk of another DNA-dependent ATPase was achieved on heparin-Sepharose. Further purification steps included ATP-agarose and fast protein liquid chromatography-Mono S. A 47-kDa polypeptide cosedimented with the DNA helicase activity in a glycerol gradient as well as in gel filtration on Superose 6. The calf thymus DNA helicase had a sedimentation coefficient of 4-7 S and Stokes radius of about 45 A suggesting that the enzyme might be monomer in its functional form. DNA helicase activity requires a divalent cation with Mg2+ being more efficient than Mn2+ or Ca2+. Hydrolysis of ATP is required since the two nonhydrolyzable ATP analogs adenosine 5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) and adenylyl (beta, gamma-methylene)diphosphonate cannot substitute for ATP or dATP in the displacement reaction. Calf thymus DNA helicase is able to use ATP, dATP, dideoxy-ATP, CTP, and dCTP with Km for ATP and dATP of 0.2 and 0.25 mM, respectively. The enzyme can displace a fragment of 24 bases completely in an enzyme concentration- and time-dependent manner. The DNA helicase appears to bind to single-stranded DNA and to move to single-strand double-strand transition. The directionality of unwinding is 3'----5' with respect to the single-stranded DNA to which the enzyme is bound.

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