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J Biol Chem. 1994 Apr 22;269(16):11859-68.

Mutational analysis of residues in the nucleotide binding domain of human terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7260.


Human terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) was overexpressed in a baculovirus system. The pure recombinant enzyme was identical in size, activity, kinetic constants, and metal effects to native enzyme. Three amino acids, within either the putative nucleotide binding domain and part of a DNA polymerase consensus sequence, YGDTDSLF, or a TdT consensus sequence, GGFRRGK, were altered by site-directed mutagenesis. The four mutant forms of terminal transferase were also overexpressed in the baculovirus expression system and purified from Trichoplusia ni larvae by a monoclonal antibody affinity column and compared with wild-type enzyme with respect to thermostabilities, secondary structure, metal effects, and kinetic parameters. Three of the four mutants retained 3-16% of wild-type activity under varying metal conditions, and one of the mutants, D343E, consistently exhibited less than 0.2% of wild-type TdT activity with dATP and no activity with dGTP. All mutants had alterations in the Km for dATP. Variations in Km for dGTP were not as consistent. The Km for the other substrate, DNA initiator (dA)50) in the presence of dATP remained essentially the same as that of wild-type TdT for all mutants except D343E. The enzyme activity of all mutants was stimulated by Zn2+ at low concentrations, and this effect was diminished and reversed at higher concentrations of ZnSO4. All mutants still retained significant amounts of the secondary structure as measured by circular dichroism. These results indicated that the aspartic acid residue at position 343 is located at or near the active site and is critical for the nucleotide binding and catalytic activity.

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