The LEXE motif, conserved in eukaryotic type DNA polymerases, is placed close to the polymerization active site. Previous studies suggested that the second Glu was involved in binding a third noncatalytic ion in bacteriophage RB69 DNA polymerase. In the protein-primed DNA polymerase subgroup, the LEXE motif lacks the first Glu in most cases, but it has a conserved Phe/Trp and a Gly preceding that position. To ascertain the role of those residues, we have analyzed the behavior of mutants at the corresponding ϕ29 DNA polymerase residues Gly-481, Trp-483, Ala-484, and Glu-486. We show that mutations at Gly-481 and Trp-483 hamper insertion of the incoming dNTP in the presence of Mg(2+) ions, a reaction highly improved when Mn(2+) was used as metal activator. These results, together with previous crystallographic resolution of ϕ29 DNA polymerase ternary complex, allow us to infer that Gly-481 and Trp-483 could form a pocket that orients Val-250 to interact with the dNTP. Mutants at Glu-486 are also defective in polymerization and, as mutants at Gly-481 and Trp-483, in the pyrophosphorolytic activity with Mg(2+). Recovery of both reactions with Mn(2+) supports a role for Glu-486 in the interaction with the pyrophosphate moiety of the dNTP.
Keywords: Bacteriophage; DNA Polymerase; DNA Replication; Nucleic Acid Synthesis; Viral Polymerase.