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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Apr;40(7):2974-83. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr1218. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Metal-induced DNA translocation leads to DNA polymerase conformational activation.

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Laboratory of Structural Biology, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


Binding of the catalytic divalent ion to the ternary DNA polymerase β/gapped DNA/dNTP complex is thought to represent the final step in the assembly of the catalytic complex and is consequently a critical determinant of replicative fidelity. We have analyzed the effects of Mg(2+) and Zn(2+) on the conformational activation process based on NMR measurements of [methyl-(13)C]methionine DNA polymerase β. Unexpectedly, both divalent metals were able to produce a template base-dependent conformational activation of the polymerase/1-nt gapped DNA complex in the absence of a complementary incoming nucleotide, albeit with different temperature thresholds. This conformational activation is abolished by substituting Glu295 with lysine, thereby interrupting key hydrogen bonds necessary to stabilize the closed conformation. These and other results indicate that metal-binding can promote: translocation of the primer terminus base pair into the active site; expulsion of an unpaired pyrimidine, but not purine, base from the template-binding pocket; and motions of polymerase subdomains that close the active site. We also have performed pyrophosphorolysis studies that are consistent with predictions based on these results. These findings provide new insight into the relationships between conformational activation, enzyme activity and polymerase fidelity.

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