Genetic information 'created' by archaebacterial DNA polymerase

Biochem J. 1997 Jun 1;324 ( Pt 2)(Pt 2):667-71. doi: 10.1042/bj3240667.


DNA polymerase catalyses replication of cellular DNA. The reaction requires a primer-template complex, and a new DNA chain grows from the 3' end of the primer along the template; no genetic information is created in this reaction. We demonstrate that DNA polymerase from Thermococcus litoralis, a hyperthermophilic marine Archaea, can synthesize up to 50000 bp of linear double-stranded DNA in the complete absence of a primer-template complex, indicating that genetic information is 'created.' The possibility of DNA contamination in the reaction mixture, which may serve as a primer and/or template, was vigorously excluded; for example, pretreatment of DNA polymerase with DNase I or extensive chromatographic purification of the substrate, deoxyribonucleoside 5'-triphosphates, did not abolish the primer-template-independent DNA synthesis. The DNA synthesized was (CTAGATAT)n, (TAGATATCTATC)n or a related sequence. Similar repetitive sequences are found in centromeric satellite DNA of many organisms. The significance of this ab initio DNA synthesis is that genetic information can flow from protein to DNA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / enzymology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Satellite / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Deoxyribonuclease I / pharmacology
  • Deoxyribonucleotides / isolation & purification
  • Deoxyribonucleotides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Templates, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Satellite
  • Deoxyribonucleotides
  • DNA
  • Tli polymerase
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Deoxyribonuclease I

Associated data

  • GENBANK/Y12316
  • GENBANK/Y12317
  • GENBANK/Y12318