The replication protein of the archaeal plasmid pRN1 is a multifunctional enzyme which appears to carry out several steps at the plasmid replication initiation. We recently determined the structure of the minimal primase domain of the replication protein and found out that the primase domain consists of a catalytic primase/polymerase domain and an accessory helix-bundle domain. Structure-guided mutagenesis allowed us to identify amino acids which are important for template binding, dinucleotide formation and a step before primer extension. On the basis of functional and structural data, we propose a model of the catalytic cycle of primer synthesis by the pRN1 replication protein.

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