DNA polymerases require two acidic residues to coordinate metal ions A and B at their polymerisation active site during catalysis of nucleotide incorporation. Crystallographic resolution of varphi29 DNA polymerase ternary complex showed that metal B coordination also depends on the carbonyl group of Val250 that belongs to the highly conserved Dx(2)SLYP motif of eukaryotic-type (family B) DNA polymerases. In addition, multiple sequence alignments have shown the specific conservation of this residue among the DNA polymerases that use a protein as primer. Thus, to ascertain its role in polymerisation, we have analysed the behaviour of single mutations introduced at the corresponding Val250 of varphi29 DNA polymerase. The differences in nucleotide binding affinity shown by mutants V250A and V250F with respect to the wild-type DNA polymerase agree to a role for Val250 as a metal B-dNTP complex ligand. In addition, mutant V250F was severely affected in varphi29 DNA replication because of a large reduction in the catalytic efficiency of the protein-primed reactions. In the light of the varphi29 DNA polymerase structures, a role for Val250 residue in the maintenance of the proper architecture of the enzyme to perform the protein-primed reactions is also proposed.
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