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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2005 Feb;15(1):86-93.

Bumps in the road: how replicative DNA polymerases see DNA damage.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, The Markey Center for Molecular Genetics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


Significant advances have been made recently in the study of polymerases. First came the realization that there are many more DNA polymerases than originally thought; indeed, no fewer than 14 template-dependent DNA polymerases are found in mammals. Concurrent structural studies of DNA polymerases bound to DNA and incoming nucleotide have revealed how these remarkable copying machines select the correct deoxynucleoside triphosphate among a sea of nucleotides. A whole new level of insight into DNA replication fidelity has been reached as a result of recently determined crystal structures of DNA lesions in the context of the active sites of repair, replicative and specialized DNA polymerases. These structures illustrate why some lesions can be bypassed readily, whereas others are strong blocks to DNA replication.

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