Emerging links between hypermutation of antibody genes and DNA polymerases

Nat Rev Immunol. 2001 Dec;1(3):187-92. doi: 10.1038/35105009.


Substantial antibody variability is created when nucleotide substitutions are introduced into immunoglobulin variable genes by a controlled process of hypermutation. Evidence points to a mechanism involving DNA repair events at sites of targeted breaks. In vertebrate cells, there are many recently identified DNA polymerases that inaccurately copy templates. Some of these are candidates for enzymes that introduce base changes during hypermutation. Recent research has focused on possible roles for DNA polymerases zeta (POLZ), eta (POLH), iota (POLI), and mu (POLM) in the process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Diversity
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • DNA Repair / immunology
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Models, Immunological
  • Mutation*


  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase