Identification of amino acids in herpes simplex virus DNA polymerase involved in substrate and drug recognition.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) encodes a DNA polymerase that is similar in several respects to the replicative mammalian DNA polymerase alpha. Recently, these and other DNA polymerases have been shown to share several regions of protein sequence similarity. Despite these similarities, antiviral drugs that mimic natural polymerase substrates specifically inhibit herpesvirus DNA polymerases. To study amino acids involved in substrate and drug recognition, we have characterized and mapped altered drug sensitivity markers of nine HSV pol mutants and sequenced the relevant portions of these mutants. The mutations were found to occur within four relatively small regions. One such region, which we designate region A, has sequence similarity only to DNA polymerases that are sensitive to certain antiviral drugs. The other three regions contain sequences that are similar among various DNA polymerases. The multiple mutations occurring within two of these regions make it likely that the regions interact directly with drugs and substrates. Our results lead us to favor a model in which protein folding allows interactions among the four regions to form the substrate and drug binding sites.




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