An AP endonuclease 1-DNA polymerase beta complex: theoretical prediction of interacting surfaces

PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 Apr 25;4(4):e1000066. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000066.


Abasic (AP) sites in DNA arise through both endogenous and exogenous mechanisms. Since AP sites can prevent replication and transcription, the cell contains systems for their identification and repair. AP endonuclease (APEX1) cleaves the phosphodiester backbone 5' to the AP site. The cleavage, a key step in the base excision repair pathway, is followed by nucleotide insertion and removal of the downstream deoxyribose moiety, performed most often by DNA polymerase beta (pol-beta). While yeast two-hybrid studies and electrophoretic mobility shift assays provide evidence for interaction of APEX1 and pol-beta, the specifics remain obscure. We describe a theoretical study designed to predict detailed interacting surfaces between APEX1 and pol-beta based on published co-crystal structures of each enzyme bound to DNA. Several potentially interacting complexes were identified by sliding the protein molecules along DNA: two with pol-beta located downstream of APEX1 (3' to the damaged site) and three with pol-beta located upstream of APEX1 (5' to the damaged site). Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, ensuring geometrical complementarity of interfaces, enabled us to predict interacting residues and calculate binding energies, which in two cases were sufficient (approximately -10.0 kcal/mol) to form a stable complex and in one case a weakly interacting complex. Analysis of interface behavior during MD simulation and visual inspection of interfaces allowed us to conclude that complexes with pol-beta at the 3'-side of APEX1 are those most likely to occur in vivo. Additional multiple sequence analyses of APEX1 and pol-beta in related organisms identified a set of correlated mutations of specific residues at the predicted interfaces. Based on these results, we propose that pol-beta in the open or closed conformation interacts and makes a stable interface with APEX1 bound to a cleaved abasic site on the 3' side. The method described here can be used for analysis in any DNA-metabolizing pathway where weak interactions are the principal mode of cross-talk among participants and co-crystal structures of the individual components are available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Computer Simulation
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / ultrastructure*
  • DNA Polymerase beta / chemistry*
  • DNA Polymerase beta / ultrastructure*
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / chemistry*
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / ultrastructure*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation


  • DNA
  • DNA Polymerase beta
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase