A three-domain structure for the delta subunit of the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme delta domain III binds delta' and assembles into the DnaX complex

J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 12;277(15):13246-56. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M108708200. Epub 2002 Jan 24.


Using psi-BLAST, we have developed a method for identifying the poorly conserved delta subunit of the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme from all sequenced bacteria. This approach, starting with Escherichia coli delta, leads not only to the identification of delta but also to the DnaX and delta' subunits of the DnaX complex and other AAA(+)-class ATPases. This suggests that, although not an ATPase, delta is related structurally to the other subunits of the DnaX complex that loads the beta sliding clamp processivity factor onto DNA. To test this prediction, we aligned delta sequences with those of delta' and, using the start of delta' Domain III established from its x-ray crystal structure, predicted the juncture between Domains II and III of delta. This putative delta Domain III could be expressed to high levels, consistent with the prediction that it folds independently. delta Domain III, like Domain III of DnaX and delta', assembles by itself into a complex with the other DnaX complex components. Cross-linking studies indicated a contact of delta with the DnaX subunits. These observations are consistent with a model where two tau subunits and one each of the gamma, delta', and delta subunits mutually interact to form a pentameric functional core for the DnaX complex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chymotrypsin / metabolism
  • DNA Polymerase III / chemistry
  • DNA Polymerase III / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DnaX protein, Bacteria
  • DNA Polymerase III
  • Chymotrypsin