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J Biol Chem. 2000 Mar 17;275(11):7447-50.

Fidelity of human DNA polymerase eta.

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Sealy Center for Molecular Science, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-1061, USA.


Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) patients are highly sensitive to sunlight, and they suffer from a high incidence of skin cancers. The variant form of XP results from mutations in the hRAD30A gene, which encodes the DNA polymerase in humans, hPol(eta). Of the eukaryotic DNA polymerases, only human Pol(eta) and its yeast counterpart have the ability to replicate DNA containing a cis-syn thymine-thymine (T-T) dimer. Here we measure the fidelity of hPol(eta) on all four nondamaged template bases and at each thymine residue of a cis-syn T-T dimer. Opposite all four nondamaged template bases, hPol(eta) misincorporates nucleotides with a frequency of approximately 10(-2)-10(-3), and importantly, hPol(eta) synthesizes DNA opposite the T-T dimer with the same accuracy and efficiency as opposite the nondamaged DNA. The low fidelity of hPol(eta) may derive from a flexible active site that renders the enzyme more tolerant of geometric distortions in DNA and enables it to synthesize DNA past a T-T dimer.

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