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J Biol Chem. 2011 Apr 15;286(15):13314-26. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.226191. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Functional dissection of the DNA interface of the nucleotidyltransferase domain of chlorella virus DNA ligase.

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Molecular Biology Program, Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, New York 10065, USA.


Chlorella virus DNA ligase (ChVLig) has pluripotent biological activity and an intrinsic nick-sensing function. ChVLig consists of three structural modules that envelop nicked DNA as a C-shaped protein clamp: a nucleotidyltransferase (NTase) domain and an OB domain (these two are common to all DNA ligases) as well as a distinctive β-hairpin latch module. The NTase domain, which performs the chemical steps of ligation, binds the major groove flanking the nick and the minor groove on the 3'-OH side of the nick. Here we performed a structure-guided mutational analysis of the NTase domain, surveying the effects of 35 mutations in 19 residues on ChVLig activity in vivo and in vitro, including biochemical tests of the composite nick sealing reaction and of the three component steps of the ligation pathway (ligase adenylylation, DNA adenylylation, and phosphodiester synthesis). The results highlight (i) key contacts by Thr-84 and Lys-173 to the template DNA strand phosphates at the outer margins of the DNA ligase footprint; (ii) essential contacts of Ser-41, Arg-42, Met-83, and Phe-75 with the 3'-OH strand at the nick; (iii) Arg-176 phosphate contacts at the nick and with ATP during ligase adenylylation; (iv) the role of Phe-44 in forming the protein clamp around the nicked DNA substrate; and (v) the importance of adenine-binding residue Phe-98 in all three steps of ligation. Kinetic analysis of single-turnover nick sealing by ChVLig-AMP underscored the importance of Phe-75-mediated distortion of the nick 3'-OH nucleoside in the catalysis of DNA 5'-adenylylation (step 2) and phosphodiester synthesis (step 3). Induced fit of the nicked DNA into a distorted conformation when bound within the ligase clamp may account for the nick-sensing capacity of ChVLig.

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