Distinct function of conserved amino acids in the fingers of Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA polymerase α

Masanori Ogawa, Siripan Limsirichaikul, Atsuko Niimi, Shigenori Iwai, Shonen Yoshida, Motoshi Suzuki

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Structural differences between class A and B DNA polymerases suggest that the motif B region, a wall of the catalytic pocket, may have evolved differentially in the two polymerase families. This study examines the function of the motif B residues in Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA polymerase α (pol α). Effects of the mutations were determined by biochemical analysis and genetic complementation of a yeast strain carrying a temperature-sensitive pol α mutant. Many conserved residues were viable with a variety of substitutions. Among them, mutations at Asn-948 or Tyr-951 conferred up to 8-fold higher colony formation frequency in a URA3 forward mutation assay, and 79-fold higher trp1 reversion frequency was observed for Y951P in yeast. Purified Y951P was as accurate as wild type in DNA synthesis but ∼6-fold less processive and 22-fold less active in vitro. Therefore, Y951P may increase the frequency of mutant colony formation because of its low level of DNA polymerase activity in yeast. Mutations at Lys-944 or Gly-952 were not viable, which is consistent with the observation that mutants with substitutions at Gly-952 have strongly reduced catalytic activity in vitro. Gly-952 may provide a space for the nascent base pair and thus may play an essential function in S. cerevisiae DNA pol α. These results suggest that class B DNA polymerases have a unique structure in the catalytic pocket, which is distinct from the corresponding region in class A DNA polymerases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19071-19078
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 23-05-2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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