New insights into the coordination between the polymerization and 3'-5' exonuclease activities in ϕ29 DNA polymerase

Sci Rep. 2019 Jan 29;9(1):923. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37513-7.


Bacteriophage ϕ29 DNA polymerase has two activities: DNA polymerization and 3'-5' exonucleolysis governed by catalytic sites present in two structurally distant domains. These domains must work together to allow the correct replication of the template and to prevent the accumulation of errors in the newly synthesized DNA strand. ϕ29 DNA polymerase is endowed with a high processivity and strand displacement capacity together with a high fidelity. Previous studies of its crystallographic structure suggested possible interactions of residues of the exonuclease domain like the Gln180 with the fingers subdomain, or water mediated and direct hydrogen bond by the polar groups of residues Tyr101 and Thr189 that could stabilize DNA binding. To analyse their functional importance for the exonuclease activity of ϕ29 DNA polymerase we engineered mutations to encode amino acid substitutions. Our results confirm that both residues, Tyr101 and Thr189 are involved in the 3'-5' exonuclease activity and in binding the dsDNA. In addition, Tyr101 is playing a role in processivity and Thr189 is an important determinant in the fidelity of the DNA polymerase. On the other hand, the biochemical characterization of the mutant derivatives of residue Gln180 showed how the mutations introduced enhanced the 3'-5' exonuclease activity of the enzyme. A potential structural conformation prone to degrade the substrate is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / physiology*
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*


  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase