Send to

Choose Destination
Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Dec;46(6):548-70. doi: 10.3109/10409238.2011.620941. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

Antimutator variants of DNA polymerases.

Author information

Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


Evolution balances DNA replication speed and accuracy to optimize replicative fitness and genetic stability. There is no selective pressure to improve DNA replication fidelity beyond the background mutation rate from other sources, such as DNA damage. However, DNA polymerases remain amenable to amino acid substitutions that lower intrinsic error rates. Here, we review these 'antimutagenic' changes in DNA polymerases and discuss what they reveal about mechanisms of replication fidelity. Pioneering studies with bacteriophage T4 DNA polymerase (T4 Pol) established the paradigm that antimutator amino acid substitutions reduce replication errors by increasing proofreading efficiency at the expense of polymerase processivity. The discoveries of antimutator substitutions in proofreading-deficient 'mutator' derivatives of bacterial Pols I and III and yeast Pol δ suggest there must be additional antimutagenic mechanisms. Remarkably, many of the affected amino acid positions from Pol I, Pol III, and Pol δ are similar to the original T4 Pol substitutions. The locations of antimutator substitutions within DNA polymerase structures suggest that they may increase nucleotide selectivity and/or promote dissociation of primer termini from polymerases poised for misincorporation, leading to expulsion of incorrect nucleotides. If misincorporation occurs, enhanced primer dissociation from polymerase domains may improve proofreading in cis by an intrinsic exonuclease or in trans by alternate cellular proofreading activities. Together, these studies reveal that natural selection can readily restore replication error rates to sustainable levels following an adaptive mutator phenotype.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center