Analysis of unassisted translesion replication by the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme

Biochemistry. 1999 May 4;38(18):5948-58. doi: 10.1021/bi982599+.


DNA damage-induced mutations are formed when damaged nucleotides present in single-stranded DNA are replicated. We have developed a new method for the preparation of gapped plasmids containing site-specific damaged nucleotides, as model DNA substrates for translesion replication. Using these substrates, we show that the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme from Escherichia coli can bypass a synthetic abasic site analogue with high efficiency (30% bypass in 16 min), unassisted by other proteins. The theta and tau subunits of the polymerase were not essential for bypass. No bypass was observed when the enzyme was assayed on a synthetic 60-mer oligonucleotide carrying the same lesion, and bypass on a linear gapped plasmid was 3-4-fold slower than on a circular gapped plasmid. There was no difference in the bypass when standing-start and running-start replication were compared. A comparison of translesion replication by DNA polymerase I, DNA polymerase II, the DNA polymerase III core, and the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme clearly showed that the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme was by far the most effective in performing translesion replication. This was not only due to the high processivity of the pol III holoenzyme, because increasing the processivity of pol II by adding the gamma complex and beta subunit, did not increase bypass. These results support the model that SOS regulation was imposed on a fundamentally constitutive translesion replication reaction to achieve tight control of mutagenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Polymerase I / genetics
  • DNA Polymerase I / metabolism
  • DNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • DNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • DNA Polymerase III / chemistry*
  • DNA Polymerase III / genetics
  • DNA Polymerase III / metabolism
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / genetics
  • Holoenzymes / chemistry
  • Holoenzymes / genetics
  • Holoenzymes / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / chemical synthesis
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / metabolism
  • Plasmids / chemical synthesis
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Substrate Specificity


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Holoenzymes
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • DNA Polymerase I
  • DNA Polymerase II
  • DNA Polymerase III