The spacious active site of a Y-family DNA polymerase facilitates promiscuous nucleotide incorporation opposite a bulky carcinogen-DNA adduct: Elucidating the structure-function relationship through experimental and computational approaches

Rebecca A. Perlow-Poehnelt, Ilya Likhterov, David A. Scicchitano, Nicholas E. Geacintov, Suse Broyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Y-family DNA polymerases lack some of the mechanisms that replicative DNA polymerases employ to ensure fidelity, resulting in higher error rates during replication of undamaged DNA templates and the ability to bypass certain aberrant bases, such as those produced by exposure to carcinogens, including benzo[a]pyrene (BP). A tumorigenic metabolite of BP, (+)-anti-benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide, attacks DNA to form the major 10S (+)-trans-anti-[BP]-N 2-dG adduct, which has been shown to be mutagenic in a number of prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. The 10S (+)-trans-anti-[BP]-N2-dG adduct can cause all three base substitution mutations, and the SOS response in Escherichia coli increases bypass of bulky adducts, suggesting that Y-family DNA polymerases are involved in the bypass of such lesions. Dpo4 belongs to the DinB branch of the Y-family, which also includes E. coli pol IV and eukaryotic pol κ. We carried out primer extension assays in conjunction with molecular modeling and molecular dynamics studies in order to elucidate the structure-function relationship involved in nucleotide incorporation opposite the bulky 10S (+)-trans-anti-[BP]-N2-dG adduct by Dpo4. Dpo4 is able to bypass the 10S (+)-trans-anti-[BP]-N2-dG adduct, albeit to a lesser extent than unmodified guanine, and the Vmax values for insertion of all four nucleotides opposite the adduct by Dpo4 are similar. Computational studies suggest that 10S (+)-trans-anti-[BP]-N2-dG can be accommodated in the active site of Dpo4 in either the anti or syn conformation due to the limited protein-DNA contacts and the open nature of both the minor and major groove sides of the nascent base pair, which can contribute to the promiscuous nucleotide incorporation opposite this lesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36951-36961
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 27 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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