The polymerase subunit of DNA polymerase III of Escherichia coli. II. Purification of the alpha subunit, devoid of nuclease activities.


The alpha subunit (140 kDa) of DNA polymerase III (pol III) holoenzyme has been purified to near-homogeneity from a plasmid-carrying Escherichia coli strain which overproduced the alpha subunit about 20-fold. Pol III core (containing only the alpha, epsilon, and theta subunits), produced at twice the normal level, was also purified in good yield. The isolated alpha subunit has DNA polymerase activity, which is completely inhibited by 10 mM N-ethylmaleimide or 150 mM KCl as observed in the pol III core or holoenzyme. The alpha subunit has an apparent turnover number of 7.7 nucleotides polymerized per s, compared to 20 for pol III core, and is more thermolabile. The alpha subunit lacks the 3'----5' exonuclease (proofreading) activity of pol III core; neither alpha subunit nor core (nor holoenzyme) possesses any of the previously reported 5'----3' exonuclease activity. Thus, the alpha polypeptide is the polymerase subunit and epsilon (27 kDa) is the proofreading subunit (Scheuermann, R. H., and Echols, H. (1984) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 81, 7747-7751). Together with the theta polypeptide (10 kDa), of unknown function, they form a pol III core with greater stability and catalytic efficiency.






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