DNA repair | 3 Sep 2017
EG Frank, MP McLenigan, JP McDonald, D Huston, S Mead and R Woodgate
The cDNA encoding human DNA polymerase ι (POLI) was cloned in 1999. At that time, it was believed that the POLI gene encoded a protein of 715 amino acids. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies led to the realization that there is an upstream, in-frame initiation codon that would encode a DNA polymerase ι (polι) protein of 740 amino acids. The extra 25 amino acid region is rich in acidic residues (11/25) and is reasonably conserved in eukaryotes ranging from fish to humans. As a consequence, the curated Reference Sequence (RefSeq) database identified polι as a 740 amino acid protein. However, the existence of the 740 amino acid polι has never been shown experimentally. Using highly specific antibodies to the 25 N-terminal amino acids of polι, we were unable to detect the longer 740 amino acid (ι-long) isoform in western blots. However, trace amounts of the ι-long isoform were detected after enrichment by immunoprecipitation. One might argue that the longer isoform may have a distinct biological function, if it exhibits significant differences in its enzymatic properties from the shorter, well-characterized 715 amino acid polι. We therefore purified and characterized recombinant full-length (740 amino acid) polι-long and compared it to full-length (715 amino acid) polι-short in vitro. The metal ion requirements for optimal catalytic activity differ slightly between ι-long and ι-short, but under optimal conditions, both isoforms exhibit indistinguishable enzymatic properties in vitro. We also report that like ι-short, the ι-long isoform can be monoubiquitinated and polyubiuquitinated in vivo, as well as form damage induced foci in vivo. We conclude that the predominant isoform of DNA polι in human cells is the shorter 715 amino acid protein and that if, or when, expressed, the longer 740 amino acid isoform has identical properties to the considerably more abundant shorter isoform.
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