A DNA duplex covalently cross-linked between specific bases has been prepared. This and similar duplexes are substrates for the polymerase and exonuclease activities of the Klenow fragment of Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I and T4 and T7 DNA polymerases. The action of Klenow fragment on these duplexes indicates that the polymerase site does not require that the DNA duplex undergo strand separation for activity, whereas the exonuclease site requires that at least four base pairs of the primer strand must melt out for the exonucleolytic removal of nucleotides from the primer terminus. The exonucleolytic action of T4 and T7 DNA polymerases requires that only two and three bases respectively melt out for excision of nucleotides from the primer terminus. Klenow fragment and T4 DNA polymerase are able to polymerize onto duplexes incapaole of strand separation, whereas T7 DNA polymerase seems to require that the primer terminus be at least three bases from the cross-linked base pair. A DNA duplex with a biotin covalently linked to a specific base has been prepared. In the presence of the biotin binding protein avidin, the exonucleolytic activity of Klenow fragment requires that the primer terminus be at least 15 base pairs downstream from the base with the biotin-avidin complex. On the other hand, the polymerase activity of Klenow fragment required that the primer terminus be at least six base pairs downstream from the base with the biotin-avidin complex. These results suggest that the polymerase and exonuclease sites of Klenow are physically separate in solution and exhibit different substrate structural requirements for activity.
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