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ABSTRACT: RNA primer removal from Okazaki fragments during lagging-strand replication and the excision of damaged DNA bases requires the action of structure-specific nucleases, such as the mammalian flap endonuclease 1 (FEN-1). This nuclease contains two conserved motifs enriched with acidic amino acid residues that are important for catalytic function. Similar motifs have been identified in nucleases found in viruses, archebacteria, eubacteria, and in eukaryotes ranging from yeast to humans. Unique among these proteins, the putative FEN-1 homologue in Escherichia coli is contained within the N-terminal region of the DNA polymerase I (PolN). To demonstrate that the cellular functions of FEN-1 reside in PolN, we cloned and expressed the amino terminal domain (323 amino acid residues) of PolI in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain lacking the FEN-1 homologue RAD27. Overexpression of PolN suppressed, to varying degrees, phenotypes associated with a rad27 null strain. These include temperature sensitivity, Okazaki fragment processing, a mutator phenotype, a G2/M cell cycle arrest, minichromosome loss, and methyl methane sulfonate sensitivity. We purified Rad27 and PolN proteins in order to determine whether differences in their intrinsic nuclease activities or interaction with proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) could explain the partial suppression of some phenotypes. We found that the in vitro nuclease activities of Rad27 were more potent than those of PolN and the activity of Rad27, but not PolN, was stimulated by PCNA. We conclude that the N-terminal nuclease domain of E. coli polymerase I encodes a functional homologue of FEN-1.
Current Genetics 10/2002; 41(6):379-88. · 2.41 Impact Factor