Apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) sites are the most frequently found mutagenic lesions in DNA, and they arise mainly from spontaneous base loss or modified base removal by damage-specific DNA glycosylases. AP sites are cleaved by AP endonucleases, and the resultant gaps in the DNA are repaired by DNA polymerase/DNA ligase reactions. We identified the gene product that is responsible for the AP endonuclease activity in the hyperthermophilic euryarchaeon, Pyrococcus furiosus. Furthermore, we detected the physical interaction between P. furiosus AP endonuclease (PfuAPE) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA; PfuPCNA) by a pull-down assay and a surface plasmon resonance analysis. Interestingly, the associated 3-5 exonuclease activity, but not the AP endonuclease activity, of PfuAPE was stimulated by PfuPCNA. Immunoprecipitation experiments using the P. furiosus cell extracts supported the interaction between PfuAPE and PfuPCNA in the cells. This is the first report describing the physical and functional interactions between an archaeal AP endonuclease and PCNA. We also detected the ternary complex of PfuPCNA, PfuAPE and Pfu uracil-DNA glycosylase. This complex probably functions to enhance the repair of uracil-containing DNA in P. furiosus cells.
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