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J Biol Chem. 1993 Dec 25;268(36):27100-8.

Genetic and biochemical studies of bacteriophage T4 DNA polymerase 3'-->5'-exonuclease activity.

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Department of Genetics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


DNA polymerase exonucleolytic proofreading is important in attaining high fidelity DNA replication. One of the most well characterized proofreading activities is the 3'-->5'-exonuclease activity of bacteriophage T4 DNA polymerase. We have used genetic analyses and protein sequence comparisons to Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I to identify amino acids in the N-terminal region of T4 DNA polymerase that are required for exonucleolytic proofreading. Mutant DNA polymerases with amino acid substitutions D112A/E114A, D219A, or D324A reduced 3'-->5'-exonuclease activity 10(2)-10(4)-fold in various in vitro assays and decreased DNA replication fidelity in vivo. DNA replication activity was also reduced for the exonuclease-deficient DNA polymerases in vitro and in vivo. Reduction in DNA replication appeared to be due primarily to the interdependence of T4 DNA polymerase replication and proofreading activities; T4 DNA polymerase requires 3'-->5'-exonuclease activity to repair primer termini that are not suitable substrates for extension. Observations reported here provide further evidence in support of the proposal that DNA polymerases have distinct 3'-->5'-exonuclease and polymerase active sites.

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