Single-molecule view of coordination in a multi-functional DNA polymerase

Elife. 2021 Mar 11;10:e62046. doi: 10.7554/eLife.62046.


Replication and repair of genomic DNA requires the actions of multiple enzymatic functions that must be coordinated in order to ensure efficient and accurate product formation. Here, we have used single-molecule FRET microscopy to investigate the physical basis of functional coordination in DNA polymerase I (Pol I) from Escherichia coli, a key enzyme involved in lagging-strand replication and base excision repair. Pol I contains active sites for template-directed DNA polymerization and 5' flap processing in separate domains. We show that a DNA substrate can spontaneously transfer between polymerase and 5' nuclease domains during a single encounter with Pol I. Additionally, we show that the flexibly tethered 5' nuclease domain adopts different positions within Pol I-DNA complexes, depending on the nature of the DNA substrate. Our results reveal the structural dynamics that underlie functional coordination in Pol I and are likely relevant to other multi-functional DNA polymerases.

Keywords: DNA polymerase; E. coli; functional coordination; molecular biophysics; single-molecule FRET; structural biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • DNA Polymerase I / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Single Molecule Imaging


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • DNA Polymerase I