Structure of eukaryotic DNA polymerase epsilon and lesion bypass capability
Sammanfattning: To transfer the information in the genome from mother cell to daughter cell, the DNA replication must be carried out only once and with very high fidelity prior to every cell division. In yeast there are several different DNA polymerases involved in DNA replication and/or DNA repair. The two replicative DNA polymerases, DNA polymerase delta (Pol delta) and DNA polymerase epsilon (Pol epsilon), which both include a proofreading 3´?5´exonuclease activity, can replicate and proofread the genome with a very high degree of accuracy. The aim of this thesis was to gain a better understanding of how the enigmatic DNA polymerase epsilon participates in DNA transactions.To investigate whether Pol epsilon or Pol delta is responsible for the synthesis of DNA on the lagging strand, the processing and assembly of Okazaki fragments was studied. Pol delta was found to have a unique property called “idling” which, together with the flap-endonuclease (FEN1), maintained a ligatable nick for DNA ligase I. In contrast, Pol epsilon was found to lack the ability to “idle” and interact functionally with FEN-1, indicating that Pol epsilon is not involved in processing Okazaki fragments. Together with previous genetic studies, it was concluded that Pol delta is the preferred lagging strand polymerase, leaving Pol epsilon to carry out some other function.The structure of Pol epsilon was determined by cryo-electron microscopy, to a resolution of ~20 Å. Pol epsilon is composed of a globular “head” domain consisting of the large catalytic subunit Pol2p, and a “tail” domain, consisting of the small subunits Dpb2p, Dpb3p, and Dpb4p. The two separable domains were found to be connected by a flexible hinge. Interestingly, the high intrinsic processivity of Pol epsilon depends on the interaction between the tail domain and double-stranded DNA.As a replicative DNA polymerase, Pol epsilon encounters different lesions in DNA. It was shown that Pol epsilon can perform translesion synthesis (TLS) through a model abasic site in the absence of external processivity clamps under single-hit conditions. The lesion bypass was dependent of the sequence on the template and also on a proper interaction of the “tail”domain with the primer-template.Yeast cells treated with a DNA damaging agent and devoid of all TLS polymerases showed improved survival rates in the presence of elevated levels of dNTPs. These genetic results suggested that replicative polymerases may be engaged in the bypass of some DNA lesions. In vitro, Pol epsilon was found to bypass 8-OxoG at elevated dNTP levels. Together, the in vitro and in vivo results suggest that the replicative polymerases may be engaged in bypass of less bulky DNA lesions at elevated dNTP levels.In conclusion, the low-resolution structure presented represents the first structural characterization of a eukaryotic multi-subunit DNA polymerase. The replicative DNA polymerase Pol epsilon can perform translesion synthesis due to an interaction between the tail domain and double-stranded DNA. Pol epsilon may also bypass less bulky DNA lesions when there are elevated dNTP concentrations in vivo.
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