DNA polymerases are enzymes capable of synthesizing DNA. They are involved in replication of genomes of all cellular organisms as well as in processes of DNA repair and genetic recombination. However, DNA polymerases can also be encoded by viruses, including bacteriophages, and such enzymes are involved in viral DNA replication. DNA synthesizing enzymes are grouped in several families according to their structures and functions. Nevertheless, there are examples of bacteriophage-encoded DNA polymerases which are significantly different from other known enzymes capable of catalyzing synthesis of DNA. These differences are both structural and functional, indicating a huge biodiversity of bacteriophages and specific properties of their enzymes which had to evolve under certain conditions, selecting unusual properties of the enzymes which are nonetheless crucial for survival of these viruses, propagating as special kinds of obligatory parasites. In this review, we present a brief overview on DNA polymerases, and then we discuss unusual properties of different bacteriophage-encoded enzymes, such as those able to initiate DNA synthesis using the protein-priming mechanisms or even start this process without any primer, as well as able to incorporate untypical nucleotides. Apart from being extremely interesting examples of biochemical biodiversity, bacteriophage-encoded DNA polymerases can also be useful tools in genetic engineering and biotechnology.
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