Accuracy of lesion bypass by yeast and human DNA polymerase eta

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jul 17;98(15):8355-60. doi: 10.1073/pnas.121007298.


DNA polymerase eta (Pol eta) functions in the error-free bypass of UV-induced DNA lesions, and a defect in Pol eta in humans causes the cancer-prone syndrome, the variant form of xeroderma pigmentosum. Both yeast and human Pol eta replicate through a cis-syn thymine-thymine dimer (TT dimer) by inserting two As opposite the two Ts of the dimer. Pol eta, however, is a low-fidelity enzyme, and it misinserts nucleotides with a frequency of approximately 10(-2) to 10(-3) opposite the two Ts of the TT dimer as well as opposite the undamaged template bases. This low fidelity of nucleotide insertion seems to conflict with the role of Pol eta in the error-free bypass of UV lesions. To resolve this issue, we have examined the ability of human and yeast Pol eta to extend from paired and mispaired primer termini opposite a TT dimer by using steady-state kinetic assays. We find that Pol eta extends from mispaired primer termini on damaged and undamaged DNAs with a frequency of approximately 10(-2) to 10(-3) relative to paired primer termini. Thus, after the incorporation of an incorrect nucleotide, Pol eta would dissociate from the DNA rather than extend from the mispair. The resulting primer-terminal mispair then could be subject to proofreading by a 3'-->5' exonuclease. Replication through a TT dimer by Pol eta then would be more accurate than that predicted from the fidelity of nucleotide incorporation alone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Humans
  • Ligases / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Thymine
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • 8-hydroxyguanine
  • Guanine
  • O-(6)-methylguanine
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Rad30 protein
  • Ligases
  • Thymine