Evolving a Polymerase for Hydrophobic Base Analogues
journal contributionposted on 21.10.2009, 00:00 by David Loakes, José Gallego, Vitor B. Pinheiro, Eric T. Kool, Philipp Holliger
Hydrophobic base analogues (HBAs) have shown great promise for the expansion of the chemical and coding potential of nucleic acids but are generally poor polymerase substrates. While extensive synthetic efforts have yielded examples of HBAs with favorable substrate properties, their discovery has remained challenging. Here we describe a complementary strategy for improving HBA substrate properties by directed evolution of a dedicated polymerase using compartmentalized self-replication (CSR) with the archetypal HBA 5-nitroindole (d5NI) and its derivative 5-nitroindole-3-carboxamide (d5NIC) as selection substrates. Starting from a repertoire of chimeric polymerases generated by molecular breeding of DNA polymerase genes from the genus Thermus, we isolated a polymerase (5D4) with a generically enhanced ability to utilize HBAs. The selected polymerase. 5D4 was able to form and extend d5NI and d5NIC (d5NI(C)) self-pairs as well as d5NI(C) heteropairs with all four bases with efficiencies approaching, or exceeding, those of the cognate Watson−Crick pairs, despite significant distortions caused by the intercalation of the d5NI(C) heterocycles into the opposing strand base stack, as shown by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). Unlike Taq polymerase, 5D4 was also able to extend HBA pairs such as Pyrene: ϕ (abasic site), d5NI: ϕ, and isocarbostyril (ICS): 7-azaindole (7AI), allowed bypass of a chemically diverse spectrum of HBAs, and enabled PCR amplification with primers comprising multiple d5NI(C)-substitutions, while maintaining high levels of catalytic activity and fidelity. The selected polymerase 5D4 promises to expand the range of nucleobase analogues amenable to replication and should find numerous applications, including the synthesis and replication of nucleic acid polymers with expanded chemical and functional diversity.
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polymerase 5 D 4chimeric polymerasesselection substratesDNA polymerase genes5 D 4PCR amplificationpolymerase substratesHBA substrate propertiesstrand base stacknucleobase analoguesCSRHydrophobic Base AnaloguesHydrophobic base analoguesICSresonance spectroscopyTaq polymerasesubstrate propertiesNMR5NICgenus ThermusHBA pairsAI5NI heterocycles5NI heteropairsacid polymers