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J Biol Chem. 1983 Apr 10;258(7):4485-91.

On the fidelity of DNA replication. Mechanisms of misincorporation by intercalating agents.


Two distinct mechanisms of action for intercalating agents have been delineated: one leading to the production of frameshift misincorporations and the other leading to the production of single-base substitutions. Addition misincorporations are competitive with respect to DNA template (a measure of classical intercalation) but are not competitive with respect to deoxynucleotide substrates. Single-base substitutions are not competitive with template, polymerase, or deoxynucleotide as tested individually, but are proportional to the absolute drug concentration, indicating a ternary complex involving intercalator, polymerase, and template. Increased frequencies of single-base substitutions have not been considered as a general property of intercalators. Using a mutant phi X174 DNA, we demonstrate that intercalators also induce single-base substitutions with natural DNA templates. Reversion of am3 phi X174 DNA occurs only by single-base substitutions at position 587; this is increased 8-fold when the DNA is copied in vitro in the presence of intercalators.

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