Replication infidelity via a mismatch with Watson-Crick geometry.


In describing the DNA double helix, Watson and Crick suggested that ...
In describing the DNA double helix, Watson and Crick suggested that "spontaneous mutation may be due to a base occasionally occurring in one of its less likely tautomeric forms." Indeed, among many mispairing possibilities, either tautomerization or ionization of bases might allow a DNA polymerase to insert a mismatch with correct Watson-Crick geometry. However, despite substantial progress in understanding the structural basis of error prevention during polymerization, no DNA polymerase has yet been shown to form a natural base-base mismatch with Watson-Crick-like geometry. Here we provide such evidence, in the form of a crystal structure of a human DNA polymerase lambda variant poised to misinsert dGTP opposite a template T. All atoms needed for catalysis are present at the active site and in positions that overlay with those for a correct base pair. The mismatch has Watson-Crick geometry consistent with a tautomeric or ionized base pair, with the pH dependence of misinsertion consistent with the latter. The results support the original idea that a base substitution can originate from a mismatch having Watson-Crick geometry, and they suggest a common catalytic mechanism for inserting a correct and an incorrect nucleotide. A second structure indicates that after misinsertion, the now primer-terminal G*T mismatch is also poised for catalysis but in the wobble conformation seen in other studies, indicating the dynamic nature of the pathway required to create a mismatch in fully duplex DNA.



Structure and Structure/Function


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