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Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 Apr;8(4):302-12. doi: 10.1038/nri2281. Epub 2008 Mar 14.

DNA polymerases in adaptive immunity.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U783, Développement du système immunitaire, Faculté de Médecine, Université Paris Descartes, Site Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France.


To cope with an unpredictable variety of potential pathogenic insults, the immune system must generate an enormous diversity of recognition structures, and it does so by making stepwise modifications at key genetic loci in each lymphoid cell. These modifications proceed through the action of lymphoid-specific proteins acting together with the general DNA-repair machinery of the cell. Strikingly, these general mechanisms are usually diverted from their normal functions, being used in rather atypical ways in order to privilege diversity over accuracy. In this Review, we focus on the contribution of a set of DNA polymerases discovered in the past decade to these unique DNA transactions.

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