Metal-induced infidelity during DNA synthesis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1976 Jul;73(7):2331-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.73.7.2331.


The effect of several divalent cations on the accuracy of DNA replication in vitro has been examined. Only Be2+ altered the accuracy of DNA synthesis using purified DNA polymerase (DNA nucleotidyltransferase; deoxynucleosidetriphosphate:DNA deoxynucleotidyltransferase; EC from avian myeloblastosis virus. The Be2+-induced base substitutions occurred with all templates and with all nucleotides tested. Analysis of the product by equilibrium density centrifugation and processive hydrolysis with snake venom phosphodiesterase suggested that the noncomplementary nucleotides were present in phosphodiester linkage. Nearest neighbor studies indicated that many of the Be2+-induced errors were present as single base substitutions. The enhancement of error frequency could be duplicated by the pretreatment of the enzyme, but not the template, with Be2+. Glycerol gradient centrifugation dissociated the Be2+-DNA polymerase complex and restored the initial error frequency of the polymerase. Thus, the weak binding of a metal cation to a DNA polymerase could alter the accuracy with which that polymerase copied DNA. Beryllium is a known carcinogen. The potential use of this system as a screening technique to detect chemical mutagens and carcinogens is considered.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Avian Myeloblastosis Virus / enzymology
  • Beryllium / metabolism
  • Beryllium / pharmacology*
  • Binding Sites
  • Cations, Divalent / pharmacology
  • Cell-Free System
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication / drug effects*
  • DNA, Viral / biosynthesis*
  • Magnesium / pharmacology


  • Cations, Divalent
  • DNA, Viral
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • Magnesium
  • Beryllium