Stimulation of the processivity of the DNA polymerase of bacteriophage T4 by the polymerase accessory proteins. The role of ATP hydrolysis

J Biol Chem. 1991 Jan 25;266(3):1830-40.


In this paper we examine the role of the DNA polymerase accessory proteins in modulating the processivity of DNA synthesis by the bacteriophage T4-coded five protein "holoenzyme" replication complex in vitro. Primed single-stranded DNA was used as a template for the DNA synthesis reactions, and buffer conditions were chosen to mimic in vivo salt concentrations. We find that the accessory proteins significantly increase the DNA-bound lifetime of the holoenzyme complex but that the maximum lifetime of the complex is still less than 10 s at 22 degrees C. The accessory proteins greatly enhance the processivity of the holoenzyme relative to that of the polymerase alone. ATP hydrolysis catalyzed by the accessory proteins complex is required to achieve this enhancement. We have investigated the temporal relationship between ATP hydrolysis by the accessory proteins and primer elongation by the holoenzyme and find that ATPase activity is required for initial assembly of the holoenzyme complex but not for elongation per se. Thus we conclude that the increased processivity displayed by the holoenzyme in moving through regions of template secondary structure reflects the high intrinsic processivity of the holoenzyme complex itself rather than a requirement for a concomitant ATPase-driven helicase activity during elongation. We have also measured the ATPase activity of the accessory proteins as a function of polymerase concentration and find that the rate of ATP hydrolysis catalyzed by this complex decreases significantly when the accessory proteins are assembled (with polymerase and gene 32 protein) into the five-protein holoenzyme and coupled to primer elongation. Based on these results we discuss mechanisms by which the ATPase activity of the polymerase accessory proteins might stimulate the overall processivity of the holoenzyme.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / biosynthesis*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotides / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • T-Phages / enzymology*
  • Templates, Genetic
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Viral Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • DNA
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase