Variations of DNA polymerase-alpha and -beta during prolonged stimulation of human lymphocytes

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1976 Mar;73(3):785-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.73.3.785.


Stimulation of human lymphocytes with phytohemagglutinin is known to induce an increase in overall DNA polymerase activity (DNA nucleotidyltransferase; deoxynucleosidetriphosphate:DNA deoxynucleotidyltransferase, EC Previous work [Pedrali Noy, G., Dalprà, L. Pedrini, A. M., Ciarrocchi, G., Giulotto, E., Nuzzo, F. & Falaschi, A. (1974) Nucleic Acids Res. 1, 1183] has shown that two subsequent waves of induction of DNA polymerase can be observed in this system; a first wave occurs in parallel with the increase in DNA replication rate; a second one occurs when the DNA synthesis rate is returned to minimal levels; the second peak is parallel to a maximum in DNA ligase and DNase levels. In the present work we have measured the levels of the DNA polymerases-alpha and -beta in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated lymphocytes during a 12-day period; both enzymes are present at detectable levels at time zero; in correspondence to the peak of DNA synthesis rate (between the fourth and fifth day) a peak of DNA polymerase-alpha is observed, increasing by a factor of approximately 20-fold over the zero time value; subsequently, the level of DNA polymerase-alpha decreases in parallel with DNA synthesis rate. The DNA polymerase-beta is also increased in correspondence to the peak in DNA synthesis rate, but reaches its maximum at later times, between the eighth and tenth day of incubation. The capacity of stimulated lymphocytes to perform repair synthesis following UV damage was measured in the same cells used for the enzyme activity determinations; this capacity also shows two maxima: a first one correlated with the peak in DNA replication rate, and a second one correlated with the peak of DNA polymerase-beta. These data suggest a certain tendency to the specialization of functions in human cell DNA polymerases; the alpha-enzyme seems mainly correlated with DNA replication, whereas the beta-enzyme seems more correlated with the ability of the cell to perform repair type synthesis.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA Replication*
  • Humans
  • Lectins
  • Lymphocytes / enzymology*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Lectins
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases