Distinctive properties of mammalian DNA polymerases

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1979 Feb 27;561(2):369-82. doi: 10.1016/0005-2787(79)90145-x.


DNA polymerase-alpha and -beta can be distinguished from one another by the differential effects of N-ethylmaleimide, KCl, ara-CTP and temperature, as well as on the basis of sedimentation. The sensitivity of DNA polymerase-beta to elevated temperatures as compared to DNA polymerase-alpha provides a new means of distinguishing between these two enzymes even in crude extracts and a possible probe for determining their function. DNA polymerase-alpha and -beta share several properties in common, including the ability to readily incorporate dUTP in place of dTTP. The Km for dUTP varies from 10 to 30 micron with different preparations of DNA polymerase-alpha and -beta. Thus, in mammalian cells, dUMP could be incorporated into DNA, and if excised by an endonuclease, would lead to discontinuities. Initial analyses of fidelity in direct comparative studies indicate that beta-class DNA polymerases are highly accurate in base selection when copying poly[d(A-T)]. Less than one molecule of dGMP is incorporated for every 12 000-45 000 molecules of dAMP and dTMP polymerized. DNA polymerase-alpha is somewhat less accurate, making one mistake for every 4000-10 000 correct nucleotides incorporated. Since both polymerases lack an exonucleolytic activity, this accuracy must be the result of selectivity for the complementary nucleotide by the polymerase.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • DNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / enzymology
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / enzymology
  • Lymphocytes / enzymology
  • Molecular Weight
  • Organ Specificity
  • Placenta / enzymology
  • Poly I / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Temperature


  • Poly I
  • DNA Polymerase II
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase