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J Biol Chem. 1978 Feb 10;253(3):758-64.

Primase, the dnaG protein of Escherichia coli. An enzyme which starts DNA chains.


Conversion of the viral DNA of phage G4 to the duplex form provided an opportunity to isolate and determine the function of the dnaG protein, the product of a gene known to be essential for replication of the Escherichia coli chromosome. This stage of G4 DNA replication requires action of three proteins: the E. coli DNA-binding protein, the dnaG protein, and the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme. The dnaG protein has been purified approximately 25,000-fold to near-homogeneity. The native protein contains a single polypeptide of 60,000 daltons. It has been assayed for its activity on G4 DNA in three ways: (a) RNA synthesis, (b) complementation for replication of an extract of a temperature-sensitive dnaG mutant, and (c) priming of DNA replication by DNA polymerase III holoenzyme. The dnaG protein is highly specific for G4 DNA and synthesizes a unique 29-residue RNA primer to be described in the suceeding paper. Other single-stranded and duplex DNA templates are inactive. RNA primer synthesis by the dnaG protein has an apparent Km for ribonucleoside triphosphates near 10 micrometer, and a narrow optimum for Mg2+. The sharp specificity of the dnaG protein in choice of template and the utilization of either deoxyribonucleotides or ribonucleotides to produce a hybrid piece only a few residues long (as described in a succeeding paper) suggests that the dnaG protein previously named RNA polymerase by renamed primase.

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