Role of Hoogsteen edge hydrogen bonding at template purines in nucleotide incorporation by human DNA polymerase ι

Robert E. Johnson, Lajos Haracska, Louise Prakash, Satya Prakash

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28 Scopus citations


Human DNA polymerase ι (Pol ι) differs from other DNA polymerases in that it exhibits a marked template specificity, being more efficient and accurate opposite template purines than opposite pyrimidines. The crystal structures of Pol ι with template A and incoming dTTP and with template G and incoming dCTP have revealed that in the Pol ι active site, the templating purine adopts a syn conformation and forms a Hoogsteen base pair with the incoming pyrimidine which remains in the anti conformation. By using 2-aminopurine and purine as the templating residues, which retain the normal N7 position but lack the N6 of an A or the O6 of a G, here we provide evidence that whereas hydrogen bonding at N6 is dispensable for the proficient incorporation of a T opposite template A, hydrogen bonding at O6 is a prerequisite for C incorporation opposite template G. To further analyze the contributions of O6 and N7 hydrogen bonding to DNA synthesis by Pol ι, we have examined its proficiency for replicating through the 6O-methyl guanine and 8-oxoguanine lesions, which affect the O6 and N7 positions of template G, respectively. We conclude from these studies that for proficient T incorporation opposite template A, only the N7 hydrogen bonding is required, but for proficient C incorporation opposite template G, hydrogen bonding at both the N7 and O6 is an imperative. The dispensability of N6 hydrogen bonding for proficient T incorporation opposite template A has important biological implications, as that would endow Pol ι with the ability to replicate through lesions which impair the Watson-Crick hydrogen bonding potential at both the N1 and N 6 positions of templating A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6435-6441
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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