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J Mol Biol. 1994 Nov 25;244(2):224-35.

Characterization of the tryptophan fluorescence and hydrodynamic properties of rat DNA polymerase beta.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


We have examined the biophysical properties of DNA polymerase beta (beta-pol) in solution. Time-resolved and steady-state fluorescence were used to investigate the microenvironment of the lone tryptophanyl residue (Trp324), and a combination of sedimentation equilibrium, sedimentation velocity and fluorescence anisotropy decay measurements were used to study the hydrodynamic properties of the enzyme. Trp324 appears to be exposed to water as judged by the tryptophan emission and steady-state and lifetime quenching experiments. The fluorescence is easily quenched by a neutral quencher acrylamide (kq = 1.59 x 10(9)M-1S-1), and by a negatively charged ionic quencher, I- (kq = 1.60 x 10(9) M-1S-1), but not by a positively charged ionic quencher, Cs+ (kq = 0.2 x 10(9) M-1S-1). The fluorescence lifetime of beta-pol is best described by the sum of two exponentials with a longer lifetime component of 8.4 ns and a shorter lifetime component of 1.3 ns. Decay associated spectra (DAS) show emission maxima at 340 nm and at 345 nm for the shorter lifetime and longer lifetime components, respectively, with corresponding centers of gravity at 347 nm and 348 nm. Sedimentation equilibrium experiments show that the enzyme exists as a monomer at the KCl concentrations (> 0.05 M) studied in the absence of divalent metals. Zn2+ causes higher order aggregation, but no such aggregates are seen with Mg2+ and Mn2+. In the presence of 1 mM manganese, the average lifetime decreased approximately 10%, from 8.14 ns to 7.38 ns, with a concomitant increase of average rotational correlational time (phi) from 24 ns to 28 ns. The accessibility of the positively charged quencher (Cs+) to tryptophan also decreases approximately 50%, indicating alteration of the tryptophan microenvironment. By contrast, Mg2+ causes minor changes in fluorescence properties. The hydrodynamic shape of the intact enzyme and its single-stranded (8 kDa) and double-stranded (31 kDa) DNA binding domains were further investigated by sedimentation velocity measurements. The value of S0(20),W for the intact enzyme is 2.97 S, and the calculated axial ratio is 5.0. In contrast to the 8 kDa domain, which has a less asymmetric shape with an axial ratio of 2.3, the 31 kDa domain shows an elongated structure with an axial ratio of 5.5. These data suggest that the axial ratio of the intact enzyme may be the result of marked bending of the molecule at the flexible hinge region between the two domains.

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