How asymmetric DNA replication achieves symmetrical fidelity

Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2021 Dec;28(12):1020-1028. doi: 10.1038/s41594-021-00691-6. Epub 2021 Dec 9.


Accurate DNA replication of an undamaged template depends on polymerase selectivity for matched nucleotides, exonucleolytic proofreading of mismatches, and removal of remaining mismatches via DNA mismatch repair (MMR). DNA polymerases (Pols) δ and ε have 3'-5' exonucleases into which mismatches are partitioned for excision in cis (intrinsic proofreading). Here we provide strong evidence that Pol δ can extrinsically proofread mismatches made by itself and those made by Pol ε, independently of both Pol δ's polymerization activity and MMR. Extrinsic proofreading across the genome is remarkably efficient. We report, with unprecedented accuracy, in vivo contributions of nucleotide selectivity, proofreading, and MMR to the fidelity of DNA replication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We show that extrinsic proofreading by Pol δ improves and balances the fidelity of the two DNA strands. Together, we depict a comprehensive picture of how nucleotide selectivity, proofreading, and MMR cooperate to achieve high and symmetrical fidelity on the two strands.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • DNA Mismatch Repair / genetics*
  • DNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • DNA Polymerase III / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / biosynthesis*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • DNA Polymerase II
  • DNA Polymerase III