[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genomic DNA is replicated by two DNA polymerase molecules, one of which works in close association with the helicase to copy the leading-strand template in a continuous manner while the second copies the already unwound lagging-strand template in a discontinuous manner through the synthesis of Okazaki fragments. Considering that the lagging-strand polymerase has to recycle after the completion of every Okazaki fragment through the slow steps of primer synthesis and hand-off to the polymerase, it is not understood how the two strands are synthesized with the same net rate. Here we show, using the T7 replication proteins, that RNA primers are made 'on the fly' during ongoing DNA synthesis and that the leading-strand T7 replisome does not pause during primer synthesis, contrary to previous reports. Instead, the leading-strand polymerase remains limited by the speed of the helicase; it therefore synthesizes DNA more slowly than the lagging-strand polymerase. We show that the primase-helicase T7 gp4 maintains contact with the priming sequence during ongoing DNA synthesis; the nascent lagging-strand template therefore organizes into a priming loop that keeps the primer in physical proximity to the replication complex. Our findings provide three synergistic mechanisms of coordination: first, primers are made concomitantly with DNA synthesis; second, the priming loop ensures efficient primer use and hand-off to the polymerase; and third, the lagging-strand polymerase copies DNA faster, which allows it to keep up with leading-strand DNA synthesis overall.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ring-shaped T7 helicase uses the energy of dTTP hydrolysis to perform the mechanical work of translocation and base pair (bp) separation. We have shown that the unwinding rate of T7 helicase decreases with increasing DNA stability. Here, we show that the dTTPase rate also decreases with increasing DNA stability, which indicates close linkage between chemical transition steps and translocation steps of unwinding. We find that the force-producing step during unwinding is not associated with dTTP binding, but dTTP hydrolysis or P(i) release. We determine that T7 helicase extracts approximately 3.7 kcal/mol energy from dTTPase to carry out the work of strand separation. Using this energy, T7 helicase unwinds approximately 4 bp of AT-rich DNA or 1-2 bp of GC-rich DNA. T7 helicase therefore adjusts both its speed and coupling ratio (bp/dTTP) to match the work of DNA unwinding. We discuss the mechanistic implications of the variable bp/dTTP that indicates T7 helicase either undergoes backward movements/futile hydrolysis or unwinds DNA with a variable bp-step size; 'long and fast' steps on AT-rich and 'short and slow' steps on GC-rich DNA.
The EMBO Journal 07/2008; 27(12):1718-26. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Helicases are motor enzymes that convert the chemical energy of NTP hydrolysis into mechanical force for motion and nucleic acid strand separation. Within the cell, helicases process a range of nucleic acid sequences. It is not known whether this composite rate of moving and opening the strands of nucleic acids depends on the base sequence. Our presteady state kinetic studies of helicases from two classes, the ring-shaped T7 helicase and two forms of non-ring-shaped hepatitis C virus (HCV) helicase, show that both the unwinding rate and processivity depend on the sequence and decrease as the nucleic acid stability increases. The DNA unwinding activity of T7 helicase and the RNA unwinding activity of HCV helicases decrease steeply with increasing base pair stability. On the other hand, the DNA unwinding activity of HCV helicases is less sensitive to base pair stability. These results predict that helicases will fall into a spectrum of modest to high sensitivity to base pair stability depending on their biological role in the cell. Modeling of the dependence provided the degree of the active involvement of helicase in base pair destabilization during the unwinding process and distinguished between passive and active mechanisms of unwinding.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2007; 282(29):21116-23. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacteriophage T7 helicase (T7 gene 4 helicase-primase) is a prototypical member of the ring-shaped family of helicases, whose structure and biochemical mechanisms have been studied in detail. T7 helicase assembles into a homohexameric ring that binds single-stranded DNA in its central channel. Using RecA-type nucleotide binding and sensing motifs, T7 helicase binds and hydrolyzes several NTPs, among which dTTP supports optimal protein assembly, DNA binding and unwinding activities. During translocation along single stranded DNA, the subunits of the ring go through dTTP hydrolysis cycles one at a time, and this probably occurs also during DNA unwinding. Interestingly, the unwinding speed of T7 helicase is an order of magnitude slower than its translocation rate along single stranded DNA. The slow unwinding rate is greatly stimulated when DNA synthesis by T7 DNA polymerase is coupled to DNA unwinding. Using the T7 helicase as an example, we highlight critical findings and discuss possible mechanisms of helicase action.
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2006; 34(15):4216-24. · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Helicases are molecular motors that use the energy of nucleoside 5'-triphosphate (NTP) hydrolysis to translocate along a nucleic acid strand and catalyse reactions such as DNA unwinding. The ring-shaped helicase of bacteriophage T7 translocates along single-stranded (ss)DNA at a speed of 130 bases per second; however, T7 helicase slows down nearly tenfold when unwinding the strands of duplex DNA. Here, we report that T7 DNA polymerase, which is unable to catalyse strand displacement DNA synthesis by itself, can increase the unwinding rate to 114 base pairs per second, bringing the helicase up to similar speeds compared to its translocation along ssDNA. The helicase rate of stimulation depends upon the DNA synthesis rate and does not rely on specific interactions between T7 DNA polymerase and the carboxy-terminal residues of T7 helicase. Efficient duplex DNA synthesis is achieved only by the combined action of the helicase and polymerase. The strand displacement DNA synthesis by the DNA polymerase depends on the unwinding activity of the helicase, which provides ssDNA template. The rapid trapping of the ssDNA bases by the DNA synthesis activity of the polymerase in turn drives the helicase to move forward through duplex DNA at speeds similar to those observed along ssDNA.