Functions of human DNA polymerases eta, kappa and iota suggested by their properties, including fidelity with undamaged DNA templates

DNA Repair (Amst). 2003 Feb 3;2(2):135-49. doi: 10.1016/s1568-7864(02)00224-0.


Human DNA polymerases eta, kappa and iota are template-dependent, Y-family DNA polymerases that have been implicated in translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) in human cells. Here, we briefly review evidence that these exonuclease-deficient polymerases copy undamaged DNA with very low fidelity and unusual error specificity. Based on the base substitution specificity and other biochemical properties of DNA polymerases eta and iota, we consider the possibility that they participate in specialized DNA transactions that repair damaged DNA and/or generate mutations in the variable regions of immunoglobulin genes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / genetics
  • Mutation


  • Immunoglobulins
  • DNA
  • DNA polymerase iota
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • POLK protein, human
  • Rad30 protein