Quantitative analysis of the efficiency and mutagenic spectra of abasic lesion bypass catalyzed by human Y-family DNA polymerases

Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Jan;39(2):609-22. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq719. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Higher eukaryotes encode various Y-family DNA polymerases to perform global DNA lesion bypass. To provide complete mutation spectra for abasic lesion bypass, we employed short oligonucleotide sequencing assays to determine the sequences of abasic lesion bypass products synthesized by human Y-family DNA polymerases eta (hPolη), iota (hPolι) and kappa (hPolκ). The fourth human Y-family DNA polymerase, Rev1, failed to generate full-length lesion bypass products after 3 h. The results indicate that hPolι generates mutations with a frequency from 10 to 80% during each nucleotide incorporation event. In contrast, hPolη is the least error prone, generating the fewest mutations in the vicinity of the abasic lesion and inserting dAMP with a frequency of 67% opposite the abasic site. While the error frequency of hPolκ is intermediate to those of hPolη and hPolι, hPolκ has the highest potential to create frameshift mutations opposite the abasic site. Moreover, the time (t(50)(bypass)) required to bypass 50% of the abasic lesions encountered by hPolη, hPolι and hPolκ was 4.6, 112 and 1 823 s, respectively. These t(50)(bypass) values indicate that, among the enzymes, hPolη has the highest abasic lesion bypass efficiency. Together, our data suggest that hPolη is best suited to perform abasic lesion bypass in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biocatalysis
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • DNA polymerase iota
  • Nucleotidyltransferases
  • REV1 protein, human
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • POLK protein, human
  • Rad30 protein