Molecular interactions in the priming complex of bacteriophage T7

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jun 12;109(24):9408-13. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1207033109. Epub 2012 May 29.


The lagging-strand DNA polymerase requires an oligoribonucleotide, synthesized by DNA primase, to initiate the synthesis of an Okazaki fragment. In the replication system of bacteriophage T7 both DNA primase and DNA helicase activities are contained within a single protein, the bifunctional gene 4 protein (gp4). Intermolecular interactions between gp4 and T7 DNA polymerase are crucial for the stabilization of the oligoribonucleotide, its transfer to the polymerase, and its extension by DNA polymerase. We have identified conditions necessary to assemble the T7 priming complex and characterized its biophysical properties using fluorescence anisotropy. In order to reveal molecular interactions that occur during delivery of the oligoribonucleotide to DNA polymerase, we have used four genetically altered gp4 to demonstrate that both the RNA polymerase and the zinc-finger domains of DNA primase are involved in the stabilization of the priming complex and in sequence recognition in the DNA template. We find that the helicase domain of gp4 contributes to the stability of the complex by binding to the ssDNA template. The C-terminal tail of gp4 is not required for complex formation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage T7 / chemistry
  • Bacteriophage T7 / metabolism*
  • Cytosine / metabolism
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism
  • DNA Primase / metabolism*
  • Fluorescence Polarization


  • Cytosine
  • DNA Primase
  • DNA Helicases