New Mechanisms of DNA replication and Repair

Genome Dynamics and Function
Departamento de Bioquímica (UAM)

Characterization of piPolBs, a new group of family B DNA polymerases.

Primer-independent DNA polymerases group (piPolBs) constitutes a third, previously overlooked, clade of family B DNA polymerases (PolBs), along with the RNA-primed (rPolBs) and protein-primed (pPolBs). PiPolBs are encoded by a new group of mobile genetic elements, named pipolins, most of which are integrated into genomes of bacteria from phyla Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria, but also replicating as circular plasmids in mitochondria.

Analysis of multiple sequence alignments (MSAs) of piPolBs showed that all of them contained active site residues of the exonuclease and DNA polymerase activities of PolBs, albeit with notable variations within the KxY and Pol C motifs. Initial biochemical characterization of piPolBs showed that they share some properties with other replicative DNA polymerases, like a proofreading capacity coupled to processive and faithful DNA polymerization activity. Strikingly, they are also capable of primer-independent de novo DNA synthesis, i.e., DNA-priming activity, thereby breaking the long-standing dogma that replicative DNA polymerases require a pre-existing primer for DNA synthesis. A modify extended KxY motif, KH-X8-TGR, is involved in this relevant capacity.

Moreover, piPolBs do not display strong sequence requirement for replication initiation and replication origins seem to be selected in a random manner, a property that may be useful for the development of unbiased whole-genome amplification.
In this project, we propose the combined use of bioinformatics, structural biology and biochemistry methods to analyze in detail the properties of piPolBs by mutagenesis of clade-specific conserved residues. Namely, the role of an invariable additional aspartate of the Pol A motif and the modified Pol C motif, as well as new putative DNA priming-specific residues will be analyzed.

Furthermore, besides providing new insights into the evolution and molecular mechanisms of DNA replication, we will contribute to the developing of novel biotechnology applications for primer-independent DNA polymerases.

This project is funded by a Grant entitled Primer-independent DNA polymerases and their applications in biotechnology and biomedicine (ref. PGC2018-093723-A-I00, 2019-2021) from "Generación del Conocimiento" program of Spanish Research Agency.

Futher information and background can be found in our recent paper: Primer-Independent DNA Synthesis by a Family B DNA Polymerase from Self-Replicating Mobile Genetic Elements (Cell Reports, 2017)

For more info and references see:


Biomolecules & Cell D.
Molecular Biomedicine
Modesto Redrejo Rodríguez