Archaeal family-B DNA polymerases possess a novel uracil-sensing mechanism. A specialized pocket scans the template, ahead of the replication fork, for the presence of uracil; on encountering this base, DNA synthesis is stalled. The structural basis for uracil recognition by polymerases is described and compared with other uracil-recognizing enzymes (uridine-triphosphate pyrophophatases and uracil-DNA glycosylases). Remarkably, protein–protein interactions between all three archaeal uracil sensors are observed; possibly the enzymes co-operate to efficiently eliminate uracil from archaeal genomes.

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