Leading and lagging strand synthesis at the replication fork of bacteriophage T7. Distinct properties of T7 gene 4 protein as a helicase and primase

J Biol Chem. 1988 Jul 15;263(20):9818-30.


Reactions at the replication fork of bacteriophage T7 have been reconstituted in vitro on a preformed replication fork. A minimum of three proteins is required to catalyze leading and lagging strand synthesis. The T7 gene 4 protein, which exists in two forms of molecular weight 56,000 and 63,000, provides helicase and primase activities. A tight complex of the T7 gene 5 protein and Escherichia coli thioredoxin provides DNA polymerase activity. Gene 4 protein and DNA polymerase catalyze processive leading strand synthesis. Gene 4 protein molecules serving as helicase remain bound to the template as leading strand synthesis proceeds greater than 40 kilobases. Primer synthesis for lagging strand synthesis is catalyzed by additional gene 4 protein molecules that undergo multiple association/dissociation steps to catalyze multiple rounds of primer synthesis. The smaller molecular weight form of gene 4 protein has been purified from an equimolar mixture of both forms. Removal of the large form results in the loss of primase activity but not of helicase activity. Submolar amounts of the large form present in a mixture of both forms are sufficient to restore high specific activity of primase characteristic of an equimolar mixture of both forms. These results suggest that the gene 4 primase is an oligomer which is composed of both molecular weight forms. The large form may be the distributive component of the primase which dissociates from the template after each round of primer synthesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Chromatography
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • DNA Primase
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / biosynthesis
  • DNA, Viral / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / biosynthesis
  • RNA Nucleotidyltransferases / isolation & purification
  • RNA Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*
  • T-Phages / genetics*
  • Templates, Genetic
  • Virus Replication*


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • DNA, Viral
  • Nucleotides
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • DNA Primase
  • RNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • DNA Helicases