B-family DNA polymerases (PolBs) of different groups are widespread in Archaea, and different PolBs often coexist in the same organism. Many of these PolB enzymes remain to be investigated. One of the main groups that is poorly characterized is PolB2, whose members occur in many archaea but are predicted to be inactivated forms of DNA polymerase. Here, Sulfolobus islandicus DNA polymerase 2 (Dpo2), a PolB2 enzyme, was expressed in its native host and purified. Characterization of the purified enzyme revealed that the polymerase possesses a robust nucleotide incorporation activity but is devoid of the 39–59 exonuclease activity. Enzyme kinetics analyses showed that Dpo2 replicates undamaged DNA templates with high fidelity, which is consistent with its inefficient nucleotide insertion activity opposite different DNA lesions. Strikingly, the polymerase is highly efficient in extending mismatches and mispaired primer termini once a nucleotide is placed opposite a damaged site. This extender polymerase represents a novel type of prokaryotic PolB specialized for DNA damage repair in Archaea. IMPORTANCE In this work, we report that Sulfolobus islandicus Dpo2, a B-family DNA polymerase once predicted to be an inactive form, is a bona fide DNA polymerase functioning in translesion synthesis. S. islandicus Dpo2 is a member of a large group of B-family DNA polymerases (PolB2) that are present in many archaea and some bacteria, and they carry variations in well-conserved amino acids in the functional domains responsible for polymerization and proofreading. However, we found that this prokaryotic B-family DNA polymerase not only replicates undamaged DNA with high fidelity but also extends mismatch and DNA lesion-containing substrates with high efficiencies. With these data, we propose this enzyme functions as an extender polymerase, the first prokaryotic enzyme of this type. Our data also suggest this PolB2 enzyme represents a functional counterpart of the eukaryotic DNA polymerase Pol zeta, an enzyme that is devoted to DNA damage repair.
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