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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Crystal structures of a natural DNA polymerase that functions as an XNA reverse transcriptase.

  • Author(s): Jackson, Lynnette N
  • Chim, Nicholas
  • Shi, Changhua
  • Chaput, John C
  • et al.

Replicative DNA polymerases are highly efficient enzymes that maintain stringent geometric control over shape and orientation of the template and incoming nucleoside triphosphate. In a surprising twist to this paradigm, a naturally occurring bacterial DNA polymerase I member isolated from Geobacillus stearothermophilus (Bst) exhibits an innate ability to reverse transcribe RNA and other synthetic congeners (XNAs) into DNA. This observation raises the interesting question of how a replicative DNA polymerase is able to recognize templates of diverse chemical composition. Here, we present crystal structures of natural Bst DNA polymerase that capture the post-translocated product of DNA synthesis on templates composed entirely of 2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro-β-d-arabino nucleic acid (FANA) and α-l-threofuranosyl nucleic acid (TNA). Analysis of the enzyme active site reveals the importance of structural plasticity as a possible mechanism for XNA-dependent DNA synthesis and provides insights into the construction of variants with improved activity.

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