Structural and mechanistic relationships between nucleic acid polymerases

Trends Biochem Sci. 1996 May;21(5):186-90.


A superfamily of nucleic acid polymerases that includes the pol I and pol alpha classes of DNA-directed DNA polymerases, mitochondrial and phage DNA-directed RNA polymerases, and most RNA-directed polymerases may be defined on the basis of the occurrence of conserved sequence motifs and tertiary structure similarities between HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, DNA polymerase I and T7 RNA polymerase. Although sequence or structural similarities do not yet justify inclusion of the multi-subunit DNA-directed RNA polymerases in this superfamily, mechanistic similarities suggest a deep relationship between these and the simpler T7-like RNA polymerases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / classification
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / chemistry*
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / classification
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase