Herpes simplex virus processivity factor UL42 imparts increased DNA-binding specificity to the viral DNA polymerase and decreased dissociation from primer-template without reducing the elongation rate

J Virol. 1999 Jan;73(1):55-66. doi: 10.1128/JVI.73.1.55-66.1999.


Herpes simplex virus DNA polymerase consists of a catalytic subunit, Pol, and a processivity subunit, UL42, that, unlike other established processivity factors, binds DNA directly. We used gel retardation and filter-binding assays to investigate how UL42 affects the polymerase-DNA interaction. The Pol/UL42 heterodimer bound more tightly to DNA in a primer-template configuration than to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), while Pol alone bound more tightly to ssDNA than to DNA in a primer-template configuration. The affinity of Pol/UL42 for ssDNA was reduced severalfold relative to that of Pol, while the affinity of Pol/UL42 for primer-template DNA was increased approximately 15-fold relative to that of Pol. The affinity of Pol/UL42 for circular double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) was reduced drastically relative to that of UL42, but the affinity of Pol/UL42 for short primer-templates was increased modestly relative to that of UL42. Pol/UL42 associated with primer-template DNA approximately 2-fold faster than did Pol and dissociated approximately 10-fold more slowly, resulting in a half-life of 2 h and a subnanomolar Kd. Despite such stable binding, rapid-quench analysis revealed that the rates of elongation of Pol/UL42 and Pol were essentially the same, approximately 15 [corrected] nucleotides/s. Taken together, these studies indicate that (i) Pol/UL42 is more likely than its subunits to associate with DNA in a primer-template configuration rather than nonspecifically to either ssDNA or dsDNA, and (ii) UL42 reduces the rate of dissociation from primer-template DNA but not the rate of elongation. Two models of polymerase-DNA interactions during replication that may explain these findings are presented.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Binding, Competitive
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase*
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases*
  • Gene Products, pol / metabolism*
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Gene Products, pol
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases
  • DNA polymerase, Simplexvirus
  • Magnesium