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Biochemistry. 1990 Feb 6;29(5):1200-7.

Structure-function analysis of mononucleotides and short oligonucleotides in the priming of enzymatic DNA synthesis.

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Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences, USSR.


The reversed-phase chromatography technique was employed in the measurement of DNA synthesis at the primers d(pT)n, r(pU)n, d(pA)n, and r(pA)n (n = 1-16) in the presence of template poly(dA) or poly(dT). DNA synthesis was catalyzed by Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I Klenow fragment, Physarum polycephalum DNA polymerase beta-like, P. polycephalum DNA polymerase alpha, and human placenta DNA polymerase alpha. Values of Km and Vmax were measured as functions of the primer chain lengths. It was found that all mononucleotides and small oligonucleotides served as primers of DNA synthesis. Values of the logarithm of both Km and Vmax increased linearly until primers had attained a chain length of 9-12 nucleotides, where a break was observed. The incremental as well as the absolute values of Km were interpreted in terms of free binding energies. These together with other data indicate that the 3'-ultimate nucleotide of the primer contributes a decisive amount of free energy of binding to DNA polymerase both from the nucleoside and from the phosphate moiety. The incremental increase is due to a complementary interaction between bases of primer and template buried in the binding cleft of the polymerase. It is also the ultimate nucleotide that determines whether the ribonucleotide or the deoxyribonucleotide is an efficient primer. It is of interest that the major results seem preserved for all four DNA polymerases. An energetic model for the binding of the template-primer was proposed and compared with available crystallographic data.

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