Contribution of polar residues of the J-helix in the 3'-5' exonuclease activity of Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I (Klenow fragment): Q677 regulates the removal of terminal mismatch

Biochemistry. 2005 Jun 7;44(22):8101-10. doi: 10.1021/bi050140r.


Previous structural and biochemical data indicate a participation of the J-helix of Escherichia coli pol I in primer positioning at the polymerase and exonuclease sites. The J-helix contains three polar residues: N675, Q677, and N678. Preliminary characterization of alanine substitutions of these residues showed that only Q677A DNA polymerase has substantially decreased polymerase and increased exonuclease activity. The Q677A enzyme had approximately 2- and approximately 5-fold greater exonuclease activity than the wild type (WT) with mismatched and matched template-primers (TPs), respectively. N675A and N678A DNA polymerases did not differ significantly from the WT in these activities, despite the fact that both residues are seen to interact with the TP in various pol I-DNA complexes. Pre-steady-state kinetic measurements for the exonuclease activity of WT and mutant enzymes indicated nearly identical DNA binding affinity for ssDNA and mismatched TPs. However, with a matched TP, Q677A DNA polymerase exhibited increased exonuclease site affinity. The most important characteristic of Q677A DNA polymerase was its ability to continue cleavage into the matched region of the TP after mismatch excision, in contrast to the WT and other mutant enzymes. The increase in the exonuclease activity of Q677A DNA polymerase was further determined not to be solely due to the weakened binding at the polymerase site, by comparison with another polymerase-defective mutant enzyme, namely, R668A DNA polymerase. These enzymes have significantly decreased DNA binding affinity at the polymerase site, yet the exonuclease activity parameters of R668A DNA polymerase remain similar to those of the WT. These results strongly suggest that participation of Q677 is required for positioning the primer terminus (a) in the polymerase site for continued nucleotide addition and (b) in the 3'-exonuclease site for the controlled removal of mismatched nucleotides.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alanine / genetics
  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Arginine / genetics
  • Asparagine / chemistry*
  • Asparagine / genetics
  • Base Pair Mismatch* / genetics
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • DNA Polymerase I / chemistry*
  • DNA Polymerase I / genetics
  • DNA Polymerase I / metabolism
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA Primers / metabolism
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Exonucleases / chemistry*
  • Exonucleases / genetics
  • Exonucleases / metabolism
  • Glutamine / chemistry*
  • Glutamine / genetics
  • Hydrolysis
  • Kinetics
  • Multienzyme Complexes / chemistry
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Secondary / genetics
  • Templates, Genetic


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Glutamine
  • Asparagine
  • Arginine
  • DNA Polymerase I
  • Exonucleases
  • Alanine