Base miscoding and strand misalignment errors by mutator Klenow polymerases with amino acid substitutions at tyrosine 766 in the O helix of the fingers subdomain.

Abstract:

A mutant derivative of Klenow fragment DNA polymerase containing serine substituted for tyrosine at residue 766 has been shown by kinetic analysis to have an increased misinsertion rate relative to wild-type Klenow fragment, but a decreased rate of extension from the resulting mispairs (Carroll, S. S., Cowart, M., and Benkovic, S. J. (1991) Biochemistry 30, 804-813). In the present study we use an M13mp2-based fidelity assay to study the error specificity of this mutator polymerase. Despite its compromised ability to extend mispairs, the Y766S polymerase and a Y766A mutant both have elevated base substitution error rates. The magnitude of the mutator effect is mispair-specific, from no effect for some mispairs to rates elevated by 60-fold for misincorporation of TMP opposite template G. The results with the Y766S mutant are remarkably consistent with the earlier kinetic analysis of misinsertion, demonstrating that either approach can be used to identify and characterize mutator polymerases. Both the Y766S and Y766A mutant polymerases are also frameshift mutators, having elevated rates for two-base deletions and a 276-base deletion between a direct repeat sequence. However, neither mutant polymerase has an increased error rate for single-base frameshifts in repetitive sequences. This error specificity suggests that the deletions generated by the mutator polymerases are initiated by misinsertion rather than by strand slippage. When considered with recent structure-function studies of other polymerases, the data indicate that the nucleotide misinsertion and strand-slippage mechanisms for polymerization infidelity are differentially affected by changes in distinct structural elements of DNA polymerases that share similar subdomain structures.

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