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DNA Polymerase 1 vs. DNA Polymerase 3: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 6, 2024
DNA Polymerase 1 is involved in DNA repair and primer removal, while DNA Polymerase 3 is the main enzyme for DNA replication in bacteria.
DNA Polymerase 1 vs. DNA Polymerase 3

Key Differences

DNA Polymerase 1, found in bacteria, primarily functions in DNA repair and the removal of RNA primers used during DNA replication. It possesses exonuclease activity, which enables it to replace RNA nucleotides with DNA nucleotides. In contrast, DNA Polymerase 3 is the principal enzyme responsible for bacterial DNA replication. It has high processivity and is essential for the synthesis of the leading and lagging DNA strands.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 06, 2024
DNA Polymerase 1 is a single polypeptide enzyme with multiple enzymatic activities, including 5'→3' polymerase activity, 3'→5' exonuclease (proofreading) activity, and 5'→3' exonuclease activity. DNA Polymerase 3, on the other hand, is a complex enzyme made up of multiple subunits, providing high processivity and efficient proofreading with its 3'→5' exonuclease activity, but it lacks 5'→3' exonuclease activity.
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In the synthesis of the lagging strand, DNA Polymerase 1 plays a crucial role in removing the RNA primers and replacing them with DNA nucleotides, thus completing the Okazaki fragments. DNA Polymerase 3, in comparison, initially lays down the RNA primer and then extends it, synthesizing the Okazaki fragments.
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DNA Polymerase 3 is characterized by its high processivity, meaning it can add a large number of nucleotides before dissociating from the DNA. This feature, combined with its rapid speed, makes it ideal for replicating long stretches of DNA efficiently. DNA Polymerase 1, while also efficient, is less processive and is more involved in editing and repair functions rather than bulk DNA synthesis.
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DNA Polymerase 1 and DNA Polymerase 3, though both crucial in bacterial DNA metabolism, vary in their evolutionary conservation across different organisms. DNA Polymerase 3, due to its central role in DNA replication, is highly conserved, whereas DNA Polymerase 1 has counterparts in eukaryotes with similar, but not identical, functions.
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Comparison Chart

Main Function

DNA repair, primer removal
Primary enzyme for DNA replication
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Structural Composition

Single polypeptide with multiple activities
Complex enzyme with multiple subunits
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Enzymatic Activities

5'→3' polymerase, 3'→5' and 5'→3' exonuclease
5'→3' polymerase, 3'→5' exonuclease
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Role in Lagging Strand

Removes RNA primers, replaces with DNA nucleotides
Synthesizes Okazaki fragments
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Processivity and Speed

Less processive, involved in editing and repair
Highly processive, rapid DNA synthesis
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DNA Polymerase 1 and DNA Polymerase 3 Definitions

DNA Polymerase 1

DNA Polymerase 1 is less processive than other polymerases and primarily functions in editing.
In contrast to DNA Polymerase 3, DNA Polymerase 1 is specialized for short DNA synthesis tasks, like primer removal.
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DNA Polymerase 3

DNA Polymerase 3 is a multi-subunit complex, providing structural stability and function.
The subunit structure of DNA Polymerase 3 allows it to coordinate leading and lagging strand synthesis effectively.
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DNA Polymerase 1

DNA Polymerase 1 has 5'→3' and 3'→5' exonuclease activity for error correction.
DNA Polymerase 1's 3'→5' exonuclease activity allows it to remove incorrect nucleotides and enhance DNA replication fidelity.
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DNA Polymerase 3

Essential in the synthesis of both leading and lagging strands during replication.
DNA Polymerase 3 is responsible for continuously adding nucleotides on the leading strand and in bursts on the lagging strand.
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DNA Polymerase 1

It's involved in DNA repair, maintaining genomic stability.
When DNA is damaged, DNA Polymerase 1 plays a key role in excising and replacing damaged nucleotides.
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DNA Polymerase 3

It has high processivity and proofreading capabilities for accurate DNA synthesis.
DNA Polymerase 3 can add thousands of nucleotides without dissociating, ensuring efficient and accurate replication.
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DNA Polymerase 1

DNA Polymerase 1 is crucial for Okazaki fragment maturation in lagging strand synthesis.
During DNA replication, DNA Polymerase 1 completes Okazaki fragments by removing RNA primers.
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DNA Polymerase 3

It lacks 5'→3' exonuclease activity, focusing on polymerization and proofreading.
DNA Polymerase 3 specializes in adding nucleotides and correcting mistakes, but not in removing sections of DNA.
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DNA Polymerase 1

DNA Polymerase 1 is an enzyme that replaces RNA primers with DNA nucleotides.
In bacterial cells, DNA Polymerase 1 ensures that RNA primers are accurately replaced by DNA during DNA replication.
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DNA Polymerase 3

DNA Polymerase 3 is the main enzyme for bacterial DNA replication.
In E. coli, DNA Polymerase 3 rapidly synthesizes new DNA strands during replication.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is DNA Polymerase 1?

An enzyme primarily involved in DNA repair and RNA primer removal in bacteria.
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What is DNA Polymerase 3?

The principal enzyme for DNA replication in bacteria.
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Does DNA Polymerase 1 have proofreading ability?

Yes, it has 3'→5' exonuclease activity for proofreading.
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How does DNA Polymerase 1 function in replication?

It removes RNA primers and replaces them with DNA nucleotides.
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What subunits make up DNA Polymerase 3?

It is composed of several subunits for structural stability and functionality.
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Is DNA Polymerase 3 found in eukaryotes?

Eukaryotes have similar, but not identical, enzymes for DNA replication.
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Does DNA Polymerase 3 have high processivity?

Yes, it can synthesize long stretches of DNA without dissociating.
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What makes DNA Polymerase 3 highly efficient?

Its high processivity and proofreading capability.
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What is the role of DNA Polymerase 3 in replication?

It synthesizes new DNA strands, both leading and lagging.
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Is DNA Polymerase 1 involved in lagging strand synthesis?

Yes, in completing Okazaki fragments.
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Can DNA Polymerase 1 synthesize long DNA strands?

No, it's less processive and mainly edits or repairs DNA.
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What distinguishes DNA Polymerase 3's structure?

Its complex, multi-subunit structure allows coordinated DNA synthesis.
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What happens if DNA Polymerase 3 malfunctions?

It would lead to errors in DNA replication, affecting cell division and genetic stability.
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Is DNA Polymerase 1 capable of initiating DNA replication?

No, it's involved later in the process for primer removal and repair.
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How does DNA Polymerase 1 correct errors?

Through its 3'→5' exonuclease activity.
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Do both enzymes have the same speed in adding nucleotides?

No, DNA Polymerase 3 is faster and more processive than DNA Polymerase 1.
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How do DNA Polymerase 1 and 3 contribute to genetic fidelity?

DNA Polymerase 1 ensures accurate primer replacement, while DNA Polymerase 3 ensures accurate and efficient DNA synthesis.
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Are these enzymes present in all living organisms?

Similar enzymes exist, but DNA Polymerase 1 and 3 are specific to bacteria.
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Is DNA Polymerase 1 essential for DNA replication?

It's essential for primer removal and DNA repair, but not the primary enzyme for replication.
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Can DNA Polymerase 1 also synthesize new DNA strands?

It can, but its primary role is in editing and repair.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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