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DNA Repair (Amst). 2011 Apr 3;10(4):390-7. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

DNA polymerase beta is critical for genomic stability of sperm cells.

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Department of Therapeutic Radiology, The Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Maintaining genome integrity in germ cells is important, given that the germ cells produce the next generation of offspring. Base excision repair is a DNA repair pathway that is responsible for the repair of most endogenous DNA damage. A key enzyme that functions in this repair pathway is DNA polymerase beta (Pol β). We previously used conditional gene targeting to engineer mice with sperm deleted of the Pol B gene, which encodes Pol β. We characterized mutagenesis in the sperm of these mice and compared it to wild-type and mice heterozygous for the Pol B gene. We found that sperm obtained that were heterozygously or homozygously deleted of the Pol B gene exhibited increased mutation frequencies compared to wild-type sperm. We identified an increase in transition mutations in both heterozygously and homozygously deleted sperm, and the types of mutations induced suggest that a polymerase other than Pol β functions in its absence. Interestingly, most of the transversions we observed were induced only in heterozygous, compared with wild-type sperm. Our results suggest that haploinsufficiency of Pol β leads to increased frequencies and varieties of mutations. Our study also shows that Pol β is critical for genome stability in the germline.

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