Archaeal DNA replication: Identifying the pieces to solve a puzzle

I. K.O. Cann, Y. Ishino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Citations (Scopus)


Archaeal organisms are currently recognized as very exciting and useful experimental materials. A major challenge to molecular biologists studying the biology of Archaea is their DNA replication mechanism. Undoubtedly, a full understanding of DNA replication in Archaea requires the identification of all the proteins involved. In each of four completely sequenced genomes, only one DNA polymerase (Pol BI proposed in this review from family B enzyme) was reported. This observation suggested that either a single DNA polymerase performs the task of replicating the genome and repairing the mutations or these genomes contain other DNA polymerases that cannot be identified by amino acid sequence. Recently, a heterodimeric DNA polymerase (Pol II, or Pol D as proposed in this review) was discovered in the hyperthermophilic archaeon, Pyrococcus furiosus. The genes coding for DP1 and DP2, the subunits of this DNA polymerase, are highly conserved in the Euryarchaeota. Euryarchaeotic DP1, the small subunit of Pol II (Pol D), has sequence similarity with the small subunit of eukaryotic DNA polymerase δ. DP2 protein, the large subunit of Pol II (Pol D), seems to be a catalytic subunit. Despite possessing an excellent primer extension ability in vitro, Pol II (Pol D) may yet require accessory proteins to perform all of its functions in euryarchaeotic cells. This review summarizes our present knowledge about archaeal DNA polymerases and their relationship with those accessory proteins, which were predicted from the genome sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1267
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


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