On the enzymatic basis for mutagenesis by manganese

J Biol Chem. 1983 Mar 25;258(6):3469-75.


The effects of manganese on DNA synthesis fidelity are measured using T4 DNA polymerase. When the nucleotide analogue 2-aminopurine deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate competes against dATP at thymine sites on template DNA, the aminopurine misincorporation frequency increases from 6.3% in the presence of Mg2+ to 29.2% in the presence of Mn2+. The major cause of the increased error rate is an approximate 4-fold increase in the frequency of aminopurine misinsertions. Exonucleolytic proofreading of aminopurine is similar in the presence of Mn2+ and Mg2+. However, the excision frequency of the correct nucleotide, dAMP, is increased 2-fold with Mn2+. In experiments in which insertion and incorporation velocities of aminopurine and adenine are measured independently of each other, a 5- to 10-fold decrease in the Michaelis constant for aminopurine is observed in the presence of Mn2+ compared to a 2-fold decrease in the Km for adenine. In contrast to the marked differential reduction in the ratio of aminopurine to adenine Km values, the maximum insertion velocities of both nucleotides are reduced by similar amounts (40-fold). We suggest that the mutagenic action of Mn2+ can be attributed primarily to a significant differential increase in binding of mispaired relative to correctly paired nucleotides to the polymerase-template complex. The resulting increase in the ratio of residence times for mispaired compared with correctly paired nucleotides on the complex results in their increased frequency of misinsertion. A smaller contributing factor to Mn2+-induced mutagenesis is a loss of proofreading specificity. We propose that the losses in both the specificities of nucleotide insertion and excision (proofreading) share a common molecular origin in which nucleotides are bound in the presence of Mn2+ in distorted configurations at the polymerase insertion and excision active sites resulting in increased nonspecific enzyme-substrate binding forces at the expense of template-substrate base pair specific hydrogen bonds.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • DNA Replication / drug effects*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Manganese / pharmacology*
  • Mutagens*
  • Mutation
  • Substrate Specificity
  • T-Phages / enzymology


  • Mutagens
  • Manganese
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Magnesium