A specific docking site for DNA polymerase {alpha}-primase on the SV40 helicase is required for viral primosome activity, but helicase activity is dispensable.

Abstract:

Replication of simian virus 40 (SV40) DNA, a model for eukaryotic chromosomal replication, can be reconstituted in vitro using the viral helicase (large tumor antigen, or Tag) and purified human proteins. Tag interacts physically with two cellular proteins, replication protein A and DNA polymerase alpha-primase (pol-prim), constituting the viral primosome. Like the well characterized primosomes of phages T7 and T4, this trio of proteins coordinates parental DNA unwinding with primer synthesis to initiate the leading strand at the viral origin and each Okazaki fragment on the lagging strand template. We recently determined the structure of a previously unrecognized pol-prim domain (p68N) that docks on Tag, identified the p68N surface that contacts Tag, and demonstrated its vital role in primosome function. Here, we identify the p68N-docking site on Tag by using structure-guided mutagenesis of the Tag helicase surface. A charge reverse substitution in Tag disrupted both p68N-binding and primosome activity but did not affect docking with other pol-prim subunits. Unexpectedly, the substitution also disrupted Tag ATPase and helicase activity, suggesting a potential link between p68N docking and ATPase activity. To assess this possibility, we examined the primosome activity of Tag with a single residue substitution in the Walker B motif. Although this substitution abolished ATPase and helicase activity as expected, it did not reduce pol-prim docking on Tag or primosome activity on single-stranded DNA, indicating that Tag ATPase is dispensable for primosome activity in vitro.

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