Herpes simplex virus 1 primase employs watson-crick hydrogen bonding to identify cognate nucleoside triphosphates. Journal Article uri icon



  • We utilized NTP analogues containing modified bases to probe the mechanism of NTP selection by the primase activity of the herpes simplex virus 1 helicase-primase complex. Primase readily bound NTP analogues of varying base shape, hydrophobicity, and hydrogen-bonding capacity. Remarkably, primase strongly discriminated against incorporating virtually all of the analogues, even though this enzyme misincorporates natural NTPs at frequencies as high as 1 in 7. This included analogues with bases much more hydrophobic than a natural base (e.g., 4- and 7-trifluoromethylbenzimidazole), a base of similar hydrophobicity as a natural base but with the Watson-Crick hydrogen-bonding groups in unusual positions (7-beta-d-guanine), bases shaped almost identically to the natural bases (4-aminobenzimidazole and 4,6-difluorobenzimidazole), bases shaped very differently than a natural base (e.g., 5- and 6-trifluoromethylbenzimidazole), and bases capable of forming just one Watson-Crick hydrogen bond with the template base (purine and 4-aminobenzimidazole). The only analogues that primase readily polymerized into primers (ITP and 3-deaza-ATP) were those capable of forming Watson-Crick hydrogen bonds with the template base. Thus, herpes primase appears to require the formation of Watson-Crick hydrogen bonds in order to efficiently polymerize a NTP. In contrast to primase's narrow specificity for NTP analogues, the DNA-dependent NTPase activity associated with the herpes primase-helicase complex exhibited very little specificity with respect to NTPs containing unnatural bases. The implications of these results with respect to the mechanism of the helicase-primase and current fidelity models are discussed.

publication date

  • November 29, 2005

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • September 6, 2013 4:49 AM

Full Author List

  • Ramirez-Aguilar KA; Moore CL; Kuchta RD

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0006-2960

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 15585

end page

  • 15593


  • 44


  • 47