Significance of the O-helix residues of Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I in DNA synthesis: dynamics of the dNTP binding pocket

Biochemistry. 1996 Jun 4;35(22):7256-66. doi: 10.1021/bi960537i.


In order to identify functionally important residues in the O and O1 helices of Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I, we mutated 9 residues of this region to alanine. The alanine substitutions result in moderate to severe effects on the polymerase activity of the individual mutant enzymes. Severe loss of activity is associated with R754A, K758A, F762A, and Y766A. However, the loss of polymerase activity with different template primers exhibited a rather unique pattern implying differential participation of the individual residue in the synthesis directed by poly(rA), poly(dA), and poly(dC) templates. The ability of all mutants to form E-DNA binary complex was found to be unaffected with the exception of Y766A and F771A, where significant reduction in the cross-linking of both the template and the primer strand was noted. Most interestingly, the catalytic activity of all inactive mutant enzymes, with the exception of K758A, could be restored by substituting Mn2+ in place of Mg2+ as a divalent cation. Based on these results and associated changes in the kinetic parameters and other properties of the individual mutant enzyme, we conclude the following: (a) Tyr 766 and Phe 771 are either involved in the binding of template-primer or are in the vicinity of the DNA binding track. (b) Residues Arg 754, Lys 758, Phe 762, and Tyr 766 appear to be required for the binding of Mg.dTTP, while only Arg 754 and Lys 758 are utilized in the polymerization of Mn.dTTP. (c) In the polymerization of dGTP, only Lys 758 appears essential regardless of the type of divalent cation. (d) Phe 762 participates only in the binding of Mg.dTTP. Finally, (e) based on the analysis of the time course of nucleotide incorporation, processivity, and pyrophosphorolysis reaction, we suggest that Lys 758 is probably involved in a conformational change of the ternary complexes preceding and following the chemical step. In summary, our results suggest that the formation of the dNTP binding pocket is a dynamic process which requires the participation of different residues depending on the type of dNTP and the divalent cation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / pharmacology
  • Catalysis
  • DNA Polymerase I / chemistry*
  • DNA Polymerase I / genetics
  • DNA Polymerase I / metabolism*
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA Primers / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Deoxyribonucleotides / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Kinetics
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Manganese / metabolism
  • Manganese / pharmacology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Photochemistry
  • Poly dA-dT / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate / pharmacology
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Templates, Genetic


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Deoxyribonucleotides
  • Poly dA-dT
  • Manganese
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate
  • DNA Polymerase I
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Magnesium