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J Biol Chem. 1995 Jun 2;270(22):13366-77.

Assembly of a chromosomal replication machine: two DNA polymerases, a clamp loader, and sliding clamps in one holoenzyme particle. III. Interface between two polymerases and the clamp loader.

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Microbiology Department, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021, USA.


The nine-subunit DNA polymerase (Pol) III* coupled to its beta sliding clamp is a rapid and highly processive replicating machine. The multiple subunits are needed for the complicated task of duplicating the Escherichia coli chromosome. In this report, Pol III* was constituted from individual pure proteins, and its structure was studied. Constitution of the Pol III* particle requires an ordered addition of the subunits, and the final structure contains 14 polypeptides in the ratio alpha 2 epsilon 2 theta 2 tau 2 gamma 2 delta 1 delta' 1 chi 1 psi 1. The structure can be summarized as being composed of two core polymerases (alpha epsilon theta) held together by a dimer of tau and one gamma complex clamp loader (gamma 2 delta 1 delta' 1 chi 1 psi 1) for loading beta onto DNA. At the center of the structure, the related tau and gamma subunits form a heterotetramer upon which the two core polymerases and clamp loader proteins assemble. The single copy nature of the delta, delta', chi, and psi subunits confers a structural asymmetry with respect to the two polymerases, presumably for the different functions of replicating the leading and lagging strands.

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