The DNA content in the silk glands of the non-mulberry silkworm Philosamia ricini increases continuously during the fourth and fifth instars of larval development indicating high levels of DNA replication in this terminally differentiated tissue. Concomitantly, the DNA polymerase alpha activity also increases in the middle and the posterior silk glands during development, reaching maximal levels in the middle of the fifth larval instar. A comparable level of DNA polymerase delta/epsilon was also observed in this highly replicative tissue. The DNA polymerase alpha-primase complex from the silk glands of P. ricini has been purified to homogeneity by conventional column chromatography as well as by immunoaffinity techniques. The molecular mass of the native enzyme is 560 kDa and the enzyme comprises six non-identical subunits. The identity of the enzyme as DNA polymerase alpha has been established by its sensitivity to inhibitors such as aphidicolin, N-ethylmaleimide, butylphenyl-dGTP, butylanilino-dATP and antibodies to polymerase alpha. The enzyme possesses primase activity capable of initiating DNA synthesis on single-stranded DNA templates. The tight association of polymerase and primase activities at a constant ratio of 6:1 is observed through all the purification steps. The 180 kDa subunit harbours the polymerase activity, while the primase activity is associated with the 45 kDa subunit.
- © 1994 The Biochemical Society, London