ABSTRACT: A novel DNA polymerase (Pol mu) has been recently identified in human cells. The amino-acid sequence of Pol mu is 42% identical to that of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT), a DNA-independent DNA polymerase that contributes to antigen-receptor diversity. In this paper we review the evidence supporting the role of Pol mu in somatic hypermutation of immunoglobulin genes, a T-dependent process that selectively occurs at germinal centres: (i) preferential expression in secondary lymphoid organs; (ii) expression associated to developing germinal centres; and (iii) very low base discrimination during DNA-dependent DNA polymerization by Pol mu, a mutator phenotype enormously accentuated by the presence of activating Mn2+ ions. Moreover, its similarity to TdT, together with extrapolation to the crystal structure of DNA polymerase beta complexed (Pol beta) with DNA, allows us to discuss the structural basis for the unprecedented error proneness of Pol mu, and to predict that Pol mu is structurally well suited to participate also in DNA end-filling steps occurring both during V(D)J recombination and repair of DNA double-strand breaks that are processed by non-homologous end-joining.
Project description:A novel DNA polymerase has been identified in human cells. Human DNA polymerase mu (Pol mu), consisting of 494 amino acids, has 41% identity to terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase (TdT). Human Pol mu, overproduced in Escherichia coli in a soluble form and purified to homogeneity, displays intrinsic terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase activity and a strong preference for activating Mn(2+) ions. Interestingly, unlike TdT, the catalytic efficiency of polymerization carried out by Pol mu was enhanced by the presence of a template strand. Using activating Mg(2+) ions, template-enhanced polymerization was also template-directed, leading to the preferred insertion of complementary nucleotides, although with low discrimination values. In the presence of Mn(2+) ions, template-enhanced polymerization produced a random insertion of nucleotides. Northern-blotting and in situ analysis showed a preferential expression of Pol mu mRNA in peripheral lymphoid tissues. Moreover, a large proportion of the human expressed sequence tags corresponding to Pol mu, present in the databases, derived from germinal center B cells. Therefore, Pol mu is a good candidate to be the mutator polymerase responsible for somatic hyper- mutation of immunoglobulin genes.
Project description:Terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase (Tdt) and DNA polymerase mu (pol mu) are two eukaryotic highly similar proteins involved in DNA processing and repair. Despite their high sequence identity, they differ widely in their activity: pol mu has a templated polymerase activity, whereas Tdt has a non-templated one. Loop1, first described when the Tdt structure was solved, has been invoked as the major structural determinant of this difference. Here we describe attempts to transform Tdt into pol mu with the minimal number of mutations in and around Loop1. First we describe the effect of mutations on six different positions chosen to destabilize Tdt Loop1 structure, either by alanine substitution or by deletion; they result at most in a reduction of Tdt activity, but adding Co(++) restores most of this Tdt activity. However, a deletion of the entire Loop1 as in pol lambda does confer a limited template-dependent polymerase behavior to Tdt while a chimera bearing an extended pol mu Loop1 reproduces pol mu behavior. Finally, 16 additional substitutions are reported, targeted at the two so-called 'sequence determinant' regions located just after Loop1 or underneath. Among them, the single-point mutant F401A displays a sequence-specific replicative polymerase phenotype that is stable upon Co(++) addition. These results are discussed in light of the available crystal structures.
Project description:DNA polymerase mu (Pol mu) is a novel family X DNA polymerase that has been suggested to play a role in micro-homology mediated joining and repair of double strand breaks. We show here that human Pol mu is not able to discriminate against the 2'-OH group of the sugar moiety. It inserts rNTPs with an efficiency that is <10-fold lower than that of dNTPs, in sharp contrast with the >1000-fold discrimination characteristic of most DNA-dependent DNA polymerases. The lack of sugar discrimination by Pol mu is demonstrated by its ability to add rNTPs to both DNA and RNA primer strands, and to insert both deoxy- and ribonucleotides on growing nucleic acid chains. 3D-modelling of human Pol mu based on the available Pol beta and TdT structural information allowed us to predict candidate residues involved in sugar discrimination. Thus, a single amino acid substitution in which Gly433 residue of Pol mu was mutated to the consensus tyrosine present in Pol beta, produced a strong increase in the discrimination against ribonucleotides. The unusual capacity to insert both rNTPs and dNTPs will be discussed in the context of the predicted roles of Pol mu in DNA repair.
Project description:Three of the four family X polymerases, DNA polymerase lambda, DNA polymerase mu, and TdT, have been associated with repair of double-strand DNA breaks by nonhomologous end-joining. Their involvement in this DNA repair process requires an N-terminal BRCT domain that mediates interaction with other protein factors required for recognition and binding of broken DNA ends. Here we present the NMR solution structure of the BRCT domain of DNA polymerase lambda, completing the structural portrait for this family of enzymes. Analysis of the overall fold of the polymerase lambda BRCT domain reveals structural similarity to the BRCT domains of polymerase mu and TdT, yet highlights some key sequence and structural differences that may account for important differences in the biological activities of these enzymes and their roles in nonhomologous end-joining. Mutagenesis studies indicate that the conserved Arg57 residue of Pol lambda plays a more critical role for binding to the XRCC4-Ligase IV complex than its structural homolog in Pol mu, Arg43. In contrast, the hydrophobic Leu60 residue of Pol lambda contributes less significantly to binding than the structurally homologous Phe46 residue of Pol mu. A third leucine residue involved in the binding and activity of Pol mu, is nonconservatively replaced by a glutamine in Pol lambda (Gln64) and, based on binding and activity data, is apparently unimportant for Pol lambda interactions with the NHEJ complex. In conclusion, both the structure of the Pol lambda BRCT domain and its mode of interaction with the other components of the NHEJ complex significantly differ from the two previously studied homologs, Pol mu and TdT.
Project description:DNA polymerase mu (Pol mu) is a DNA-dependent DNA polymerase closely related to terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT), and prone to induce template/primer misalignments and misincorporation. In addition to a proposed general role in non-homologous end joining of double-strand breaks, its mutagenic potential and preferential expression in secondary lymphoid tissues support a role in somatic hypermutation (SHM) of immunoglobulin genes. Here, we show that human Pol mu protein is expressed in the nucleus of centroblasts obtained from human tonsils, forming a characteristic foci pattern resembling that of other DNA repair proteins in response to DNA damage. Overexpression of human Pol mu in Ramos cells, in which the SHM process is constitutive, augmented the somatic mutations specifically at the variable (V) region of the immunoglobulin genes. The nature of the mutations introduced, mostly base substitutions, supports the contribution of Pol mu to mutation of G and C residues during SHM. In vitro analysis of Pol mu misincorporation on specific templates, that mimic DNA repair intermediates and correspond to mutational hotspots, indicated that many of the mutations observed in vivo can be explained by the capacity of Pol mu to induce transient template/primer misalignments.
Project description:The solution structure and dynamics of the BRCT domain from human DNA polymerase mu, implicated in repair of chromosome breaks by nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), has been determined using NMR methods. BRCT domains are typically involved in protein-protein interactions between factors required for the cellular response to DNA damage. The pol mu BRCT domain is atypical in that, unlike other reported BRCT structures, the pol mu BRCT is neither part of a tandem grouping, nor does it appear to form stable homodimers. Although the sequence of the pol mu BRCT domain has some unique characteristics, particularly the presence of >10% proline residues, it forms the characteristic alphabetaalpha sandwich, in which three alpha helices are arrayed around a central four-stranded beta-sheet. The structure of helix alpha1 is characterized by two solvent-exposed hydrophobic residues, F46 and L50, suggesting that this element may play a role in mediating interactions of pol mu with other proteins. Consistent with this argument, mutation of these residues, as well as the proximal, conserved residue R43, specifically blocked the ability of pol mu to efficiently work together with NHEJ factors Ku and XRCC4-ligase IV to join noncomplementary ends together in vitro. The structural, dynamic, and biochemical evidence reported here identifies a functional surface in the pol mu BRCT domain critical for promoting assembly and activity of the NHEJ machinery. Further, the similarity between the interaction regions of the BRCT domains of pol mu and TdT support the conclusion that they participate in NHEJ as alternate polymerases.
Project description:Despite the essential roles of pol X family enzymes in DNA repair, information about the structural basis of their nuclear import is limited. Recent studies revealed the unexpected presence of a functional nuclear localization signal (NLS) in DNA polymerase ?, indicating the importance of active nuclear targeting, even for enzymes likely to leak into and out of the nucleus. The current studies further explore the active nuclear transport of these enzymes by identifying and structurally characterizing the functional NLS sequences in the three remaining human pol X enzymes: terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT), DNA polymerase mu (pol ?) and DNA polymerase lambda (pol ?). NLS identifications are based on Importin ? (Imp?) binding affinity determined by fluorescence polarization of fluorescein-labeled NLS peptides, X-ray crystallographic analysis of the Imp??IBB•NLS complexes and fluorescence-based subcellular localization studies. All three polymerases use NLS sequences located near their N-terminus; TdT and pol ? utilize monopartite NLS sequences, while pol ? utilizes a bipartite sequence, unique among the pol X family members. The pol ? NLS has relatively weak measured affinity for Imp?, due in part to its proximity to the N-terminus that limits non-specific interactions of flanking residues preceding the NLS. However, this effect is partially mitigated by an N-terminal sequence unsupportive of Met1 removal by methionine aminopeptidase, leading to a 3-fold increase in affinity when the N-terminal methionine is present. Nuclear targeting is unique to each pol X family enzyme with variations dependent on the structure and unique functional role of each polymerase.
Project description:The crystal structure of the catalytic core of murine terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase (TdT) at 2.35 A resolution reveals a typical DNA polymerase beta-like fold locked in a closed form. In addition, the structures of two different binary complexes, one with an oligonucleotide primer and the other with an incoming ddATP-Co(2+) complex, show that the substrates and the two divalent ions in the catalytic site are positioned in TdT in a manner similar to that described for the human DNA polymerase beta ternary complex, suggesting a common two metal ions mechanism of nucleotidyl transfer in these two proteins. The inability of TdT to accommodate a template strand can be explained by steric hindrance at the catalytic site caused by a long lariat-like loop, which is absent in DNA polymerase beta. However, displacement of this discriminating loop would be sufficient to unmask a number of evolutionarily conserved residues, which could then interact with a template DNA strand. The present structure can be used to model the recently discovered human polymerase mu, with which it shares 43% sequence identity.
Project description:We describe here two novel mouse and human DNA polymerases: one (pol lambda) has homology with DNA polymerase beta while the other one (pol mu) is closer to terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase. However both have DNA polymerase activity in vitro and share similar structural organization, including a BRCT domain, helix-loop-helix DNA-binding motifs and polymerase X domain. mRNA expression of pol lambda is highest in testis and fetal liver, while expression of pol mu is more lymphoid, with highest expression both in thymus and tonsillar B cells. An unusually large number of splice variants is observed for the pol mu gene, most of which affect the polymerase domain. Expression of mRNA of both polymerases is down-regulated upon treatment by DNA damaging agents (UV light, gamma-rays or H(2)O(2)). This suggests that their biological function may differ from DNA translesion synthesis, for which several DNA polymerase activities have been recently described. Possible functions are discussed.
Project description:Eukaryotic DNA polymerase mu of the PolX family can promote the association of the two 3'-protruding ends of a DNA double-strand break (DSB) being repaired (DNA synapsis) even in the absence of the core non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) machinery. Here, we show that terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase (TdT), a closely related PolX involved in V(D)J recombination, has the same property. We solved its crystal structure with an annealed DNA synapsis containing one micro-homology (MH) base pair and one nascent base pair. This structure reveals how the N-terminal domain and Loop 1 of Tdt cooperate for bridging the two DNA ends, providing a templating base in trans and limiting the MH search region to only two base pairs. A network of ordered water molecules is proposed to assist the incorporation of any nucleotide independently of the in trans templating base. These data are consistent with a recent model that explains the statistics of sequences synthesized in vivo by Tdt based solely on this dinucleotide step. Site-directed mutagenesis and functional tests suggest that this structural model is also valid for Pol mu during NHEJ.