DNA polymerase III of Mycoplasma pulmonis: isolation and characterization of the enzyme and its structural gene, polC.


Mycoplasmas have originated from Gram-positive bacteria via rapid degenerative evolution. The results of previous investigations of mycoplasmal DNA polymerases suggest that the process of evolution has wrought a major simplification of the typical Gram-positive bacterial DNA polymerase profile, reducing it from three exonuclease (exo)-positive enzymes to a single exo-negative species. The objective of this work was to rigorously investigate this suggestion, focusing on the evolutionary fate of DNA polymerase III (Pol III), the enzyme which Gram-positive bacteria specifically require for replicative DNA synthesis. The approach used Mycoplasma pulmonis as the model organism and exploited structural gene cloning, enzymology, and Pol III-specific inhibitors of the HPUra class as investigative tools. Our results indicate that M. pulmonis has strongly conserved a single copy of a structural gene homologous to polC, the Gram-positive bacterial gene encoding Pol III. M. pulmonis was found to possess a DNA polymerase that displays the size, primary structure, exonuclease activity, and level of HPUra sensitivity expected of a prototypical Gram-positive Pol III. The high level of sensitivity of M. pulmonis growth to Gram-positive Pol III-selective inhibitors of the HPUra type strongly suggests that Mycoplasma has conserved not only the basic structure of Pol III, but also its essential replicative function. Evidence for a second, HPUra-resistant polymerase activity in M. pulmonis is also described, indicating that the DNA polymerase composition of Mycoplasma is complex and closer to that of Gram-positive bacteria than previously thought.




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