RNA-primed DNA synthesis: specific catalysis by HeLa cell DNA polymerase alpha

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1975 Feb;72(2):503-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.72.2.503.


We have analyzed and compared the responses of the three major HeLa cell DNA polymerases (alpha, beta, and gamma) to a HeLa DNA template with short RNA or DNA primers hybridized to it. Only DNA polymerase alpha is able to synthesize DNA covalently bonded to the RNA primer via a 3' yields 5' phosphodiester bond. 32P transfer experiments showed that all combinations of ribo- and deoxyribonucleotides are represented in the RNA-DNA linkages but their distribution is nonrandom. The RNA-DNA linked molecules base-paired to a HeLa DNA template strand represent a possible "natural" in vitro primer-template for DNA polymerases and can be extended by all three DNA polymerases (alpha, beta, and gamma). These findings indicate that DNA polymerases beta and gamma are capable of DNA-primed but not RNA-PRIMED DNA synthesis, while DNA polymerase alpha is capable of both RNA-primed and DAN-primed DNA synthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • HeLa Cells / enzymology*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Nucleotides / metabolism
  • RNA
  • Templates, Genetic


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Isoenzymes
  • Nucleotides
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases