The efficiency and fidelity of nucleotide incorporation and next-base extension by DNA polymerase (pol) κ past N(2)-ethyl-Gua were measured using steady-state and rapid kinetic analyses. DNA pol κ incorporated nucleotides and extended 3' termini opposite N(2)-ethyl-Gua with measured efficiencies and fidelities similar to that opposite Gua indicating a role for DNA pol κ at the insertion and extension steps of N(2)-ethyl-Gua bypass. The DNA pol κ was maximally activated to similar levels by a twenty-fold lower concentration of Mn(2+) compared to Mg(2+). In addition, the steady state analysis indicated that high fidelity DNA pol κ-catalyzed N(2)-ethyl-Gua bypass is Mg(2+)-dependent. Strikingly, Mn(2+) activation of DNA pol κ resulted in a dramatically lower efficiency of correct nucleotide incorporation opposite both N(2)-ethyl-Gua and Gua compared to that detected upon Mg(2+) activation. This effect is largely governed by diminished correct nucleotide binding as indicated by the high K(m) values for dCTP insertion opposite N(2)-ethyl-Gua and Gua with Mn(2+) activation. A rapid kinetic analysis showed diminished burst amplitudes in the presence of Mn(2+) compared to Mg(2+) indicating that DNA pol κ preferentially utilizes Mg(2+) activation. These kinetic data support a DNA pol κ wobble base pairing mechanism for dCTP incorporation opposite N(2)-ethyl-Gua. Furthermore, the dramatically different polymerization efficiencies of the Y-family DNA pols κ and ι in the presence of Mn(2+) suggest a metal ion-dependent regulation in coordinating the activities of these DNA pols during translesion synthesis.
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