Ribonucleotides and manganese ions improve non-homologous end joining by human Polμ

Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Feb 1;41(4):2428-36. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks1444. Epub 2012 Dec 28.


Human DNA polymerase mu (Polμ), a family X member involved in DNA repair, has both template-directed and terminal transferase (template-independent) activities. In addition to their ability to incorporate untemplated nucleotides, another similarity between Polµ and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) is their promiscuity in using ribonucleotides (NTPs), whose physiological significance is presently unknown. As shown here, Polµ can use NTPs instead of deoxynucleotides (dNTPs) during non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) of non-complementary ends, a Polµ-specific task. Moreover, a physiological concentration of Mn(2+) ions did benefit Polµ-mediated NHEJ by improving the efficiency and accuracy of nucleotide insertion. Analysis of different mutations in the 'steric gate' of the active site indicated that Polµ is taking advantage of an open active site, valid for selecting alternative activating metal ions and nucleotides as substrates. This versatility would allow ad hoc selection of the most appropriate nucleotide/metal ion combination for individual NHEJ events to gain efficiency without a cost in terms of fidelity, thus widening the spectrum of available solutions to position a discontinuous template strand in proper register for connection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catalytic Domain
  • Cations
  • DNA End-Joining Repair*
  • DNA Polymerase beta / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Manganese / chemistry
  • Manganese / pharmacology*
  • Ribonucleotides / metabolism*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / metabolism


  • Cations
  • Ribonucleotides
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Manganese
  • DNA polymerase beta2
  • DNA polymerase mu
  • POL4 protein, S pombe
  • DNA Polymerase beta
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase