Recognition and binding of template-primers containing defined abasic sites by Drosophila DNA polymerase alpha holoenzyme.


Human DNA polymerase alpha holoenzyme follows an ordered sequential terreactant mechanism of substrate recognition and binding (Wong, S. W., Paborsky, L. R., Fisher, P. A., Wang, T. S.-F., and Korn, D. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 7958-7968). We confirmed this mechanism for the DNA polymerase alpha holoenzyme purified from Drosophila melanogaster embryos and studied the interaction of Drosophila pol alpha with synthetic oligonucleotide template-primers containing modified tetrahydrofuran moieties as model abasic lesions chemically engineered at a number of defined sites. Abasic lesions in the template had relatively little effect on the polymerase incorporation reaction at sites proximal to the lesion. However, incorporation opposite an abasic site was undetectable relative to that which occurred opposite a normal template nucleotide. Moreover, abasic residues in the primer region of the template-primer construct as far as 4 base pairs removed from the 3'-primer terminus prevented detectable nucleotide incorporation relative to that seen on an unmodified template-primer. Primer-region lesions had qualitatively similar effects whether they were located on the primer strand itself or on the complementary template strand. Data from polymerase incorporation experiments were corroborated by competitive binding assays performed under steady state reaction conditions. Results of these experiments suggested that polymerase binding to synthetic oligonucleotide template-primers was essentially unaffected by lesions located at sites that did not block incorporation. Lesions that did block incorporation apparently did so by abrogating template-primer binding. These observations have implications for understanding the mechanisms whereby DNA polymerase alpha recognizes noninformational template sites in vivo and prevents DNA synthesis from proceeding past these points.




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