Polyacetylenetriol (PAT), a natural marine product from the Mediterranean sea sponge Petrosia sp., was found to be a novel general potent inhibitor of DNA polymerases. It inhibits equally well the RNA- and DNA-dependent DNA polymerase activities of retroviral reverse transcriptases (RTs) (i.e. of HIV, murine leukaemia virus and mouse mammary tumour virus) as well as cellular DNA polymerases (i.e. DNA polymerases α and β and Escherichia coli polymerase I). A study of the mode and mechanism of the polymerase inhibition by PAT has been conducted with HIV-1 RT. PAT was shown to be a reversible non-competitive inhibitor. PAT binds RT independently and at a site different from that of the primer-template and dNTP substrates with high affinity (Ki = 0.51μM and Ki = 0.53μM with dTTP and with dGTP as the variable substrates respectively). Blocking the polar hydroxy groups of PAT has only a marginal effect on the inhibitory capacity, thus hydrophobic interactions are likely to play a major role in inhibiting RT. Preincubation of RT with the primer-template substrate prior to the interaction with PAT reduces substantially the inhibition capacity, probably by preventing these contacts. PAT does not interfere with the first step of polymerization, the binding of RT to DNA, nor does the inhibitor interfere with the binding of dNTP to RT/DNA complex, as evident from the steady-state kinetic study, whereby Km remains unchanged. We assume, therefore, that PAT interferes with subsequent catalytic steps of DNA polymerization. The inhibitor may alter the optimal stereochemistry of the polymerase active site relative to the primer terminus, bound dNTP and the metal ions that are crucial for efficient catalysis or, alternatively, may interfere with the thumb sub-domain movement and, thus, with the translocation of the primer-template following nucleotide incorporation.

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