DNA Polymerase

DNA polymerase is an enzyme that catalyzes the polymerization of deoxyribonucleotides into a DNA strand. DNA polymerases are best-known for their role in DNA replication, in which the polymerase "reads" an intact DNA strand as a template and uses it to synthesize the new strand. The newly-polymerized molecule is complementary to the template strand and identical to the template's original partner strand. DNA polymerases use a magnesium ion for catalytic activity.

DNA polymerase can add free nucleotides to only the 3’ end of the newly-forming strand. This results in elongation of the new strand in a 5'-3' direction. No known DNA polymerase is able to begin a new chain (de novo). DNA polymerase can add a nucleotide onto only a preexisting 3'-OH group, and, therefore, needs a primer at which it can add the first nucleotide. Primers consist of RNA and DNA bases with the first two bases always being RNA, and are synthesized by another enzyme called primase. An enzyme known as a helicase is required to unwind DNA from a double-strand structure to a single-strand structure to facilitate replication of each strand consistent with the semiconservative model of DNA replication.

Error correction is a property of some, but not all, DNA polymerases. This process corrects mistakes in newly-synthesized DNA. When an incorrect base pair is recognized, DNA polymerase reverses its direction by one base pair of DNA. The 3'->5' exonuclease activity of the enzyme allows the incorrect base pair to be excised (this activity is known as proofreading). Following base excision, the polymerase can re-insert the correct base and replication can continue.

DNA polymerase. (2009, October 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:55, October 31, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=DNA_polymerase&oldid=320725948

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