Evidence that errors made by DNA polymerase alpha are corrected by DNA polymerase delta

Curr Biol. 2006 Jan 24;16(2):202-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.12.002.


Eukaryotic replication begins at origins and on the lagging strand with RNA-primed DNA synthesis of a few nucleotides by polymerase alpha, which lacks proofreading activity. A polymerase switch then allows chain elongation by proofreading-proficient pol delta and pol epsilon. Pol delta and pol epsilon are essential, but their roles in replication are not yet completely defined . Here, we investigate their roles by using yeast pol alpha with a Leu868Met substitution . L868M pol alpha copies DNA in vitro with normal activity and processivity but with reduced fidelity. In vivo, the pol1-L868M allele confers a mutator phenotype. This mutator phenotype is strongly increased upon inactivation of the 3' exonuclease of pol delta but not that of pol epsilon. Several nonexclusive explanations are considered, including the hypothesis that the 3' exonuclease of pol delta proofreads errors generated by pol alpha during initiation of Okazaki fragments. Given that eukaryotes encode specialized, proofreading-deficient polymerases with even lower fidelity than pol alpha, such intermolecular proofreading could be relevant to several DNA transactions that control genome stability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • DNA Polymerase I / physiology*
  • DNA Polymerase II / physiology
  • DNA Polymerase III / physiology*
  • DNA Replication / physiology*
  • DNA, Fungal / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Fungal / metabolism
  • Exonucleases / physiology
  • Genomic Instability
  • Mutagenesis
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA Polymerase I
  • DNA Polymerase II
  • DNA Polymerase III
  • Exonucleases