Distribution and roles of X-family DNA polymerases in eukaryotes

Biochimie. 2009 Feb;91(2):165-70. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2008.07.005. Epub 2008 Jul 26.


Four types of DNA polymerase (Pol beta, Pol lambda, Pol mu and TdT) have been identified in eukaryotes as members of the polymerase X-family. Only vertebrates have all four types of enzyme. Plants and fungi have one or two X-family polymerases, while protostomes, such as fruit flies and nematodes, do not appear to have any. It is possible that the well-known metabolic pathways in which these enzymes are involved are restricted to the vertebrate world. The distribution of the DNA polymerases involved in DNA repair across the various biological kingdoms differs from that of the DNA polymerases involved in chromosomal DNA replication. In this review, we focus on the interesting pattern of distribution of the X-family enzymes across biological kingdoms and speculate on their roles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Repair
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / classification*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular


  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase