Reduced in vivo mutagenesis by mutant herpes simplex DNA polymerase involves improved nucleotide selection.

Abstract:

We present evidence that mutation frequencies in a mammalian system can vary according to the replication fidelity of the DNA polymerase. We demonstrated previously that several derivatives of herpes simplex virus type 1 that encode polymerases resistant to various antiviral drugs (e.g., nucleotide analogues) also produce reduced numbers of spontaneous mutants. Here we show that the DNA polymerase from one antimutator virus exhibits enhanced replication fidelity. First, the antimutator virus showed a reduced response to known mutagens that promote base mispairing during DNA replication (N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine, 5-bromo-deoxyuridine). Second, purified DNA polymerase from the antimutator produced fewer replication errors in vitro, based on incorporation of mispaired nucleotides or analogues with abnormal sugar rings. We have investigated possible mechanisms for the enhanced fidelity of the antimutator polymerase. We show that the mutant enzyme has altered interactions with nucleoside triphosphates, as indicated by its resistance to nucleotide analogues and elevated Km values for normal nucleoside triphosphates. We present evidence against increased proofreading by an associated 3',5' exonuclease (as seen for T4 bacteriophage antimutator polymerases), based on nuclease levels in the mutant polymerase. We propose that reduced affinity of the polymerase for nucleoside triphosphates accounts for the antimutator phenotype by accentuating differences in base-pair stability, thus facilitating selection of correct nucleotides.

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