Evolution of DNA polymerases: an inactivated polymerase-exonuclease module in Pol epsilon and a chimeric origin of eukaryotic polymerases from two classes of archaeal ancestors.


BACKGROUND: Evolution of DNA polymerases, the key enzymes of DNA replication and repair, is central to any reconstruction of the history of cellular life. However, the details of the evolutionary relationships between DNA polymerases of archaea and eukaryotes remain unresolved. RESULTS: We performed a comparative analysis of archaeal, eukaryotic, and bacterial B-family DNA polymerases, which are the main replicative polymerases in archaea and eukaryotes, combined with an analysis of domain architectures. Surprisingly, we found that eukaryotic Polymerase epsilon consists of two tandem exonuclease-polymerase modules, the active N-terminal module and a C-terminal module in which both enzymatic domains are inactivated. The two modules are only distantly related to each other, an observation that suggests the possibility that Pol epsilon evolved as a result of insertion and subsequent inactivation of a distinct polymerase, possibly, of bacterial descent, upstream of the C-terminal Zn-fingers, rather than by tandem duplication. The presence of an inactivated exonuclease-polymerase module in Pol epsilon parallels a similar inactivation of both enzymatic domains in a distinct family of archaeal B-family polymerases. The results of phylogenetic analysis indicate that eukaryotic B-family polymerases, most likely, originate from two distantly related archaeal B-family polymerases, one form giving rise to Pol epsilon, and the other one to the common ancestor of Pol alpha, Pol delta, and Pol zeta. The C-terminal Zn-fingers that are present in all eukaryotic B-family polymerases, unexpectedly, are homologous to the Zn-finger of archaeal D-family DNA polymerases that are otherwise unrelated to the B family. The Zn-finger of Polepsilon shows a markedly greater similarity to the counterpart in archaeal PolD than the Zn-fingers of other eukaryotic B-family polymerases. CONCLUSION: Evolution of eukaryotic DNA polymerases seems to have involved previously unnoticed complex events. We hypothesize that the archaeal ancestor of eukaryotes encoded three DNA polymerases, namely, two distinct B-family polymerases and a D-family polymerase all of which contributed to the evolution of the eukaryotic replication machinery. The Zn-finger might have been acquired from PolD by the B-family form that gave rise to Pol epsilon prior to or in the course of eukaryogenesis, and subsequently, was captured by the ancestor of the other B-family eukaryotic polymerases. The inactivated polymerase-exonuclease module of Pol epsilon might have evolved by fusion with a distinct polymerase, rather than by duplication of the active module of Pol epsilon, and is likely to play an important role in the assembly of eukaryotic replication and repair complexes.



Historical Protein Properties (MW, pI, ...), Exonuclease Activity, Alignments


new topics/pols set partial results complete validated


Polymerase Reference Property Result Context
Human Pol epsilon Tahirov TH2009 3-5' Exonuclease (proofreading) Yes
Human Pol epsilon Tahirov TH2009 5-3' Exonuclease Unspecified

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