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J Biol Chem. 1989 Nov 25;264(33):19478-86.

Alterations in the phosphorylation and activity of DNA polymerase alpha correlate with the change in replicative DNA synthesis as quiescent cells re-enter the cell cycle.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York 14642.


The regulation of DNA polymerase alpha was examined in quiescent, human fibroblast cells stimulated to re-enter the cell cycle by subculturing in fresh serum-containing medium. The level of DNA polymerase alpha activity was measured in cell lysates and after specific immunoprecipitation. DNA polymerase alpha activity increased approximately 10-fold during the period of measurement. The activity increase was coincident with an approximately 60-fold increase in thymidine incorporation in the whole cells representing the first S phase. The large increase in polymerase alpha activity was not predominantly the result of synthesis of new polymerase, since the abundance of the enzyme changed less than 2-fold over the measured period. The quantity of [32P]phosphate incorporated into two subunits (180 and 68 kilodaltons) of DNA polymerase alpha increased approximately 10-fold in parallel with the increase in polymerase activity. The specific activity of the cellular ATP pool remained nearly constant over the period of measurement, indicating that the increase in labeling reflects a true increase in incorporation of phosphate. Results from other laboratories indicate that phosphorylation of DNA polymerase alpha increases its catalytic activity. Our results then suggest that the activity increase observed in DNA polymerase alpha when quiescent, human fibroblasts are stimulated to proliferate is largely caused by a phosphorylation-dependent regulatory process.

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