Uracil recognition by replicative DNA polymerases is limited to the archaea, not occurring with bacteria and eukarya

J. Wardle, P. M. J. Burgers, I. K. O. Cann, K. Darley, P. Heslop, E. Johansson, L. -. J. Lin, Peter McGlynn, J. Sanvoisin, C. M. Stith, B. A. Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Family B DNA polymerases from archaea such as Pyrococcus furiosus, which live at temperatures similar to 100 degrees C, specifically recognize uracil in DNA templates and stall replication in response to this base. Here it is demonstrated that interaction with uracil is not restricted to hyperthermophilic archaea and that the polymerase from mesophilic Methanosarcina acetivorans shows identical behaviour. The family B DNA polymerases replicate the genomes of archaea, one of the three fundamental domains of life. This publication further shows that the DNA replicating polymerases from the other two domains, bacteria (polymerase III) and eukaryotes (polymerases delta and epsilon for nuclear DNA and polymerase for mitochondrial) are also unable to recognize uracil. Uracil occurs in DNA as a result of deamination of cytosine, either in G:C base-pairs or, more rapidly, in single stranded regions produced, for example, during replication. The resulting G:U mis-pairs/single stranded uracils are promutagenic and, unless repaired, give rise to G:C to A:T transitions in 50 of the progeny. The confinement of uracil recognition to polymerases of the archaeal domain is discussed in terms of the DNA repair pathways necessary for the elimination of uracil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-711
Number of pages6
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number3
Early online date21 Nov 2007
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


  • base excision-repair
  • Escherichia-coli
  • methanosarcina-acetivorans
  • extreme thermophile
  • functional-analysis
  • pyrococcus-abyssi
  • III holoenzyme
  • glycosylase
  • distinct
  • cells


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