Kinetic selection vs. free energy of DNA base pairing in control of polymerase fidelity

Research paper by Keriann Oertell, Emily M. Harcourt, Michael G. Mohsen, John Petruska, Eric T. Kool, Myron F. Goodman

Indexed on: 05 Apr '16Published on: 04 Apr '16Published in: PNAS


What is the free energy source enabling high-fidelity DNA polymerases (pols) to favor incorporation of correct over incorrect base pairs by 103- to 104-fold, corresponding to free energy differences of ΔΔGinc ∼ 5.5–7 kcal/mol? Standard ΔΔG° values (∼0.3 kcal/mol) calculated from melting temperature measurements comparing matched vs. mismatched base pairs at duplex DNA termini are far too low to explain pol accuracy. Earlier analyses suggested that pol active-site steric constraints can amplify DNA free energy differences at the transition state (kinetic selection). A recent paper [Olson et al. (2013) J Am Chem Soc 135:1205–1208] used Vent pol to catalyze incorporations in the presence of inorganic pyrophosphate intended to equilibrate forward (polymerization) and backward (pyrophosphorolysis) reactions. A steady-state leveling off of incorporation profiles at long reaction times was interpreted as reaching equilibrium between polymerization and pyrophosphorolysis, yielding apparent ΔG° = −RT ln Keq, indicating ΔΔG° of 3.5–7 kcal/mol, sufficient to account for pol accuracy without need of kinetic selection. Here we perform experiments to measure and account for pyrophosphorolysis explicitly. We show that forward and reverse reactions attain steady states far from equilibrium for wrong incorporations such as G opposite T. Therefore, <mml:math><mml:mrow><mml:mi mathvariant="normal">ΔΔ</mml:mi><mml:msubsup><mml:mi>G</mml:mi><mml:mi mathvariant="normal">inc</mml:mi><mml:mo>°</mml:mo></mml:msubsup></mml:mrow></mml:math>ΔΔGinc° values obtained from such steady-state evaluations of Keq are not dependent on DNA properties alone, but depend largely on constraints imposed on right and wrong substrates in the polymerase active site.