PloS one

An active site aromatic triad in Escherichia coli DNA Pol IV coordinates cell survival and mutagenesis in different DNA damaging agents.

PMID 21614131


DinB (DNA Pol IV) is a translesion (TLS) DNA polymerase, which inserts a nucleotide opposite an otherwise replication-stalling N(2)-dG lesion in vitro, and confers resistance to nitrofurazone (NFZ), a compound that forms these lesions in vivo. DinB is also known to be part of the cellular response to alkylation DNA damage. Yet it is not known if DinB active site residues, in addition to aminoacids involved in DNA synthesis, are critical in alkylation lesion bypass. It is also unclear which active site aminoacids, if any, might modulate DinB's bypass fidelity of distinct lesions. Here we report that along with the classical catalytic residues, an active site "aromatic triad", namely residues F12, F13, and Y79, is critical for cell survival in the presence of the alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS). Strains expressing dinB alleles with single point mutations in the aromatic triad survive poorly in MMS. Remarkably, these strains show fewer MMS- than NFZ-induced mutants, suggesting that the aromatic triad, in addition to its role in TLS, modulates DinB's accuracy in bypassing distinct lesions. The high bypass fidelity of prevalent alkylation lesions is evident even when the DinB active site performs error-prone NFZ-induced lesion bypass. The analyses carried out with the active site aromatic triad suggest that the DinB active site residues are poised to proficiently bypass distinctive DNA lesions, yet they are also malleable so that the accuracy of the bypass is lesion-dependent.