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Environ Mol Mutagen. 2012 Jun;53(5):325-33. doi: 10.1002/em.21697. Epub 2012 May 10.

Deregulated expression of DNA polymerase β is involved in the progression of genomic instability.

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Department of Environmental Health, West China School of Public Health, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, People's Republic of China.


Deregulated expression of DNA polymerase beta (pol β) has been implicated in genomic instability that leads to tumorigenesis, yet the mechanisms underlying the pol β-mediated genetic instability remain elusive. In this study, we investigated the roles of deregulated expression of pol β in spontaneous and xenobiotic-induced genetic instability using mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) that express distinct pol β levels (wild-type, null, and overexpression) as a model system. Three genetic instability endpoints, DNA strand breaks, chromosome breakage, and gene mutation, were examined under various expression levels of pol β by comet assay, micronuclei test, and hprt mutation assay. Our results demonstrate that neither pol β deficiency nor pol β overexpression is sufficient for accumulation of spontaneous DNA damage that promotes a hyperproliferation phenotype. However, pol β null cells exhibit increased sensitivity to exogenous DNA damaging agents with increased genomic instability compared with pol β wild-type and overexpression cells. This finding suggests that a pol β deficiency may underlie genomic instability induced by exogenous DNA damaging agents. Interestingly, pol β overexpression cells exhibit less chromosomal or DNA damage, but display a higher hprt mutation frequency upon methyl methanesulfonate exposure compared with the other two cell types. Our results therefore indicate that an excessive amount of pol β may promote genomic instability, presumably through an error-prone repair response, although it enhances overall BER capacity for induced DNA damage.

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