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J Biol Chem. 2004 Dec 17;279(51):53298-305. Epub 2004 Oct 9.

Quantitative analysis of translesion DNA synthesis across a benzo[a]pyrene-guanine adduct in mammalian cells: the role of DNA polymerase kappa.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Replication across unrepaired DNA lesions in mammalian cells is effected primarily by specialized, low fidelity DNA polymerases. We studied translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) across a benzo[a]pyrene-guanine (BP-G) adduct, a major mutagenic DNA lesion generated by tobacco smoke. This was done using a quantitative assay that measures TLS indirectly, by measuring the recovery of gapped plasmids transfected into cultured mammalian cells. Analysis of PolK(+/+) mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) showed that TLS across the BP-G adduct occurred with an efficiency of 48 +/- 4%, which is an order of magnitude higher than in Escherichia coli. In PolK(-/-) MEFs, bypass was 16 +/- 1%, suggesting that at least two-thirds of the BP-G adducts in MEFs were bypassed exclusively by polymerase kappa (polkappa). In contrast, poleta was not required for bypass across BP-G in a human XP-V cell line. Analysis of misinsertion specificity across BP-G revealed that bypass was more error-prone in MEFs lacking polkappa. Expression of polkappa from a plasmid introduced into PolK(-/-) MEFs restored both the extent and fidelity of bypass across BP-G. Polkappa was not required for bypass of a synthetic abasic site. In vitro analysis demonstrated efficient bypass across BP-G by both polkappa and poleta, suggesting that the biological role of polkappa in TLS across BP-G is due to regulation of TLS and not due to an exclusive ability to bypass this lesion. These results indicate that BP-G is bypassed in mammalian cells with relatively high efficiency and that polkappa bypasses BP-G in vivo with higher efficiency and higher accuracy than other DNA polymerases.

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