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Sep 2007 Journal of molecular biology

Interplay among replicative and specialized DNA polymerases determines failure or success of translesion synthesis pathways.


Fujii S, Fuchs RP


Living cells possess a panel of specialized DNA polymerases that deal with the large diversity of DNA lesions that occur in their genomes. How specialized DNA polymerases gain access to the replication intermediate in the vicinity of the lesion is unknown. Using a model system in which a single replication blocking lesion can be bypassed concurrently by two pathways that leave distinct molecular signatures, we analyzed the complex interplay among replicative and specialized DNA polymerases. The system involves a single N-2-acetylaminofluorene guanine adduct within the NarI frameshift hot spot that can be bypassed concurrently by Pol II or Pol V, yielding a -2 frameshift or an error-free bypass product, respectively. Reconstitution of the two pathways using purified DNA polymerases Pol III, Pol II and Pol V and a set of essential accessory factors was achieved under conditions that recapitulate the known in vivo requirements. With this approach, we have identified the key replication intermediates that are used preferentially by Pol II and Pol V, respectively. Using single-hit conditions, we show that the beta-clamp is critical by increasing the processivity of Pol II during elongation of the slipped -2 frameshift intermediate by one nucleotide which, surprisingly, is enough to support subsequent elongation by Pol III rather than degradation. Finally, the proofreading activity of the replicative polymerase prevents the formation of a Pol II-mediated -1 frameshift product. In conclusion, failure or success of TLS pathways appears to be the net result of a complex interplay among DNA polymerases and accessory factors.

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