Dye structure affects Taq DNA polymerase terminator selectivity

Nucleic Acids Res. 1999 Apr 15;27(8):1912-8. doi: 10.1093/nar/27.8.1912.


All DNA sequencing methods have benefited from the development of new F667Y versions of Taq DNA polymerase. However, terminator chemistry methods show less uniform peak height patterns when compared to primer chemistry profiles suggesting that the dyes and/or their linker arms affect enzyme selectivity. We have measured elementary nucleotide rate and binding constants for representative rhodamine- and fluorescein-labeled terminators to determine how they interact with F667 versions of Taq Pol I. We have also developed a rapid gel-based selectivity assay that can be used to screen and to quantify dye-enzyme interactions with F667Y versions of the enzyme. Our results show that 6-TAMRA-ddTTP behaves like unlabeled ddTTP, while 6-FAM-ddTTP shows a 40-fold reduction in the rate constant for polymerization without affecting ground-state nucleotide binding. Detailed mechanism studies indicate that both isomers of different fluorescein dyes interfere with a conformational change step which the polymerase undergoes following nucleotide binding but only when these dyes are attached to pyrimidines. When these same dyes are attached to purines by the same propargylamino linker arm, they show no effect on enzyme selectivity. These studies suggest that it may be possible to develop fluorescein terminators for thermocycle DNA sequencing methods for polymerases that do not discriminate between deoxy- and dideoxynucleotides.

MeSH terms

  • Fluoresceins / chemistry*
  • Fluoresceins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Rhodamines / chemistry*
  • Rhodamines / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Taq Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Terminator Regions, Genetic


  • 6-carboxytetramethylrhodamine
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Rhodamines
  • 6-carboxyfluorescein
  • Taq Polymerase