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Concept: DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


High-throughput recording of signals embedded within inaccessible micro-environments is a technological challenge. The ideal recording device would be a nanoscale machine capable of quantitatively transducing a wide range of variables into a molecular recording medium suitable for long-term storage and facile readout in the form of digital data. We have recently proposed such a device, in which cation concentrations modulate the misincorporation rate of a DNA polymerase (DNAP) on a known template, allowing DNA sequences to encode information about the local cation concentration. In this work we quantify the cation sensitivity of DNAP misincorporation rates, making possible the indirect readout of cation concentration by DNA sequencing. Using multiplexed deep sequencing, we quantify the misincorporation properties of two DNA polymerases - Dpo4 and Klenow exo(-) - obtaining the probability and base selectivity of misincorporation at all positions within the template. We find that Dpo4 acts as a DNA recording device for Mn(2+) with a misincorporation rate gain of ∼2%/mM. This modulation of misincorporation rate is selective to the template base: the probability of misincorporation on template T by Dpo4 increases >50-fold over the range tested, while the other template bases are affected less strongly. Furthermore, cation concentrations act as scaling factors for misincorporation: on a given template base, Mn(2+) and Mg(2+) change the overall misincorporation rate but do not alter the relative frequencies of incoming misincorporated nucleotides. Characterization of the ion dependence of DNAP misincorporation serves as the first step towards repurposing it as a molecular recording device.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Chemistry, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


The development of personalized medicine-in which medical treatment is customized to an individual on the basis of genetic information-requires techniques that can sequence DNA quickly and cheaply. Single-molecule sequencing technologies, such as nanopores, can potentially be used to sequence long strands of DNA without labels or amplification, but a viable technique has yet to be established. Here, we show that single DNA molecules can be sequenced by monitoring the electrical conductance of a phi29 DNA polymerase as it incorporates unlabelled nucleotides into a template strand of DNA. The conductance of the polymerase is measured by attaching it to a protein transistor that consists of an antibody molecule (immunoglobulin G) bound to two gold nanoparticles, which are in turn connected to source and drain electrodes. The electrical conductance of the DNA polymerase exhibits well-separated plateaux that are ∼3 pA in height. Each plateau corresponds to an individual base and is formed at a rate of ∼22 nucleotides per second. Additional spikes appear on top of the plateaux and can be used to discriminate between the four different nucleotides. We also show that the sequencing platform works with a variety of DNA polymerases and can sequence difficult templates such as homopolymers.

Concepts: Antibody, DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Molecular biology, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


The ability to detect DNA modification sites at single base resolution could significantly advance studies regarding DNA adduct levels, which are extremely difficult to determine. Artificial nucleotides that are specifically incorporated opposite a modified DNA site offer a potential strategy for detection of such sites by DNA polymerase-based systems. Here we investigated newly synthesized base-modified benzimidazole-derived 2´-deoxynucleoside-5´-O-triphosphates in their action on DNA polymerases when performing translesion DNA synthesis past the pro-mutagenic DNA adduct O(6)-benzylguanine (O(6)-BnG). We found that a mutated form of KlenTaq DNA polymerase, i.e. KTqM747K catalyzed O(6)-BnG adduct-specific processing of the artificial BenziTP in favor of the natural dNTPs. Steady-state kinetic parameters revealed that KTqM747K catalysis of BenziTP is 25-fold more efficient for template O(6)-BnG than G, and 5-fold more efficient than natural dTMP misincorporation in adduct bypass. Furthermore, the nucleotide analog BenziTP is required for full-length product formation in O(6)-BnG bypass, as without BenziTP the polymerase stalls at the adduct site. By combining the KTqM747K polymerase and BenziTP, a first round of DNA synthesis enabled subsequent amplification of Benzi-containing DNA. These results advance the development of technologies for detecting DNA adducts.

Concepts: DNA, Base pair, DNA replication, Reverse transcriptase, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


The eukaryotic genome is primarily replicated by two DNA polymerases, Pol ε and Pol δ, that function on the leading and lagging strands, respectively. Previous studies have established recruitment mechanisms whereby Cdc45-Mcm2-7-GINS (CMG) helicase binds Pol ε and tethers it to the leading strand, and PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) binds tightly to Pol δ and recruits it to the lagging strand. The current report identifies quality control mechanisms that exclude the improper polymerase from a particular strand. We find that the replication factor C (RFC) clamp loader specifically inhibits Pol ε on the lagging strand, and CMG protects Pol ε against RFC inhibition on the leading strand. Previous studies show that Pol δ is slow and distributive with CMG on the leading strand. However, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pol δ-PCNA is a rapid and processive enzyme, suggesting that CMG may bind and alter Pol δ activity or position it on the lagging strand. Measurements of polymerase binding to CMG demonstrate Pol ε binds CMG with a Kd value of 12 nM, but Pol δ binding CMG is undetectable. Pol δ, like bacterial replicases, undergoes collision release upon completing replication, and we propose Pol δ-PCNA collides with the slower CMG, and in the absence of a stabilizing Pol δ-CMG interaction, the collision release process is triggered, ejecting Pol δ on the leading strand. Hence, by eviction of incorrect polymerases at the fork, the clamp machinery directs quality control on the lagging strand and CMG enforces quality control on the leading strand.

Concepts: DNA, Fungus, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen, DNA polymerase I, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme, Replication factor C


In most organisms, clamp loaders catalyze both the loading of sliding clamps onto DNA and their removal. How these opposing activities are regulated during assembly of the DNA polymerase holoenzyme remains unknown. By utilizing FRET to monitor protein-DNA interactions, we examined assembly of the human holoenzyme. The results indicate that assembly proceeds in a stepwise manner. The clamp loader (RFC) loads a sliding clamp (PCNA) onto a primer/template junction but remains transiently bound to the DNA. Unable to slide away, PCNA re-engages with RFC and is unloaded. In the presence of polymerase (polδ), loaded PCNA is captured from DNA-bound RFC which subsequently dissociates, leaving behind the holoenzyme. These studies suggest that the unloading activity of RFC maximizes the utilization of PCNA by inhibiting the build-up of free PCNA on DNA in the absence of polymerase and recycling limited PCNA to keep up with ongoing replication. DOI:

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Enzyme, DNA replication, Reverse transcriptase, DNA polymerase, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


A molecular device that records time-varying signals would enable new approaches in neuroscience. We have recently proposed such a device, termed a “molecular ticker tape”, in which an engineered DNA polymerase (DNAP) writes time-varying signals into DNA in the form of nucleotide misincorporation patterns. Here, we define a theoretical framework quantifying the expected capabilities of molecular ticker tapes as a function of experimental parameters. We present a decoding algorithm for estimating time-dependent input signals, and DNAP kinetic parameters, directly from misincorporation rates as determined by sequencing. We explore the requirements for accurate signal decoding, particularly the constraints on (1) the polymerase biochemical parameters, and (2) the amplitude, temporal resolution, and duration of the time-varying input signals. Our results suggest that molecular recording devices with kinetic properties similar to natural polymerases could be used to perform experiments in which neural activity is compared across several experimental conditions, and that devices engineered by combining favorable biochemical properties from multiple known polymerases could potentially measure faster phenomena such as slow synchronization of neuronal oscillations. Sophisticated engineering of DNAPs is likely required to achieve molecular recording of neuronal activity with single-spike temporal resolution over experimentally relevant timescales.

Concepts: DNA, Statistics, Chemistry, Experiment, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


The Escherichia coli DNA replication machinery has been used as a road map to uncover design rules that enable DNA duplication with high efficiency and fidelity. Although the enzymatic activities of the replicative DNA Pol III are well understood, its dynamics within the replisome are not. Here we test the accepted view that the Pol III holoenzyme remains stably associated within the replisome. We use in vitro single-molecule assays with fluorescently labeled polymerases to demonstrate that the Pol III* complex (holoenzyme lacking the β2 sliding clamp), is rapidly exchanged during processive DNA replication. Nevertheless, the replisome is highly resistant to dilution in the absence of Pol III* in solution. We further show similar exchange in live cells containing labeled clamp loader and polymerase. These observations suggest a concentration-dependent exchange mechanism providing a balance between stability and plasticity, facilitating replacement of replisomal components dependent on their availability in the environment.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme, Retrovirus, Enzymes


At the eukaryotic DNA replication fork, it is widely believed that the Cdc45-Mcm2-7-GINS (CMG) helicase is positioned in front to unwind DNA and that DNA polymerases trail behind the helicase. Here we used single-particle EM to directly image a Saccharomyces cerevisiae replisome. Contrary to expectations, the leading strand Pol ɛ is positioned ahead of CMG helicase, whereas Ctf4 and the lagging-strand polymerase (Pol) α-primase are behind the helicase. This unexpected architecture indicates that the leading-strand DNA travels a long distance before reaching Pol ɛ, first threading through the Mcm2-7 ring and then making a U-turn at the bottom and reaching Pol ɛ at the top of CMG. Our work reveals an unexpected configuration of the eukaryotic replisome, suggests possible reasons for this architecture and provides a basis for further structural and biochemical replisome studies.

Concepts: DNA, Fungus, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme, Retrovirus


Tumors defective for DNA polymerase (Pol) ε proofreading have the highest tumor mutation burden identified. A major unanswered question is whether loss of Pol ε proofreading by itself is sufficient to drive this mutagenesis, or whether additional factors are necessary. To address this, we used a combination of next generation sequencing and in vitro biochemistry on human cell lines engineered to have defects in Pol ε proofreading and mismatch repair. Absent mismatch repair, monoallelic Pol ε proofreading deficiency caused a rapid increase in a unique mutation signature, similar to that observed in tumors from patients with biallelic mismatch repair deficiency and heterozygous Pol ε mutations. Restoring mismatch repair was sufficient to suppress the explosive mutation accumulation. These results strongly suggest that concomitant suppression of mismatch repair, a hallmark of colorectal and other aggressive cancers, is a critical force for driving the explosive mutagenesis seen in tumors expressing exonuclease-deficient Pol ε.

Concepts: DNA, Cancer, Mutation, DNA repair, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


The eukaryotic replisome is a molecular machine that coordinates the Cdc45-MCM-GINS (CMG) replicative DNA helicase with DNA polymerases α, δ, and ε and other proteins to copy the leading- and lagging-strand templates at rates between 1 and 2 kb min(-1). We have now reconstituted this sophisticated machine with purified proteins, beginning with regulated CMG assembly and activation. We show that replisome-associated factors Mrc1 and Csm3/Tof1 are crucial for in vivo rates of replisome progression. Additionally, maximal rates only occur when DNA polymerase ε catalyzes leading-strand synthesis together with its processivity factor PCNA. DNA polymerase δ can support leading-strand synthesis, but at slower rates. DNA polymerase δ is required for lagging-strand synthesis, but surprisingly also plays a role in establishing leading-strand synthesis, before DNA polymerase ε engagement. We propose that switching between these DNA polymerases also contributes to leading-strand synthesis under conditions of replicative stress.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Enzyme, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme