Essential lysine residues in the RNA polymerase domain of the gene 4 primase-helicase of bacteriophage T7.

Abstract:

At a replication fork DNA primase synthesizes oligoribonucleotides that serve as primers for the lagging strand DNA polymerase. In the bacteriophage T7 replication system, DNA primase is encoded by gene 4 of the phage. The 63-kDa gene 4 protein is composed of two major domains, a helicase domain and a primase domain located in the C- and N-terminal halves of the protein, respectively. T7 DNA primase recognizes the sequence 5'-NNGTC-3' via a zinc motif and catalyzes the template-directed synthesis of tetraribonucleotides pppACNN. T7 DNA primase, like other primases, shares limited homology with DNA-dependent RNA polymerases. To identify the catalytic core of the T7 DNA primase, single-point mutations were introduced into a basic region that shares sequence homology with RNA polymerases. The genetically altered gene 4 proteins were examined for their ability to support phage growth, to synthesize functional primers, and to recognize primase recognition sites. Two lysine residues, Lys-122 and Lys-128, are essential for phage growth. The two residues play a key role in the synthesis of phosphodiester bonds but are not involved in other activities mediated by the protein. The altered primases are unable to either synthesize or extend an oligoribonucleotide. However, the altered primases do recognize the primase recognition sequence, anneal an exogenous primer 5'-ACCC-3' at the site, and transfer the primer to T7 DNA polymerase. Other lysines in the vicinity are not essential for the synthesis of primers.

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