Translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) by the Y-family DNA polymerases Polη, Polι and Polκ, mediated via interaction with proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), is a crucial pathway that protects human cells against DNA damage. We report that Polη has three PCNA-interacting protein (PIP) boxes (PIP1, 2, 3) that contribute differentially to two distinct functions, stimulation of DNA synthesis and promotion of PCNA ubiquitination. The latter function is strongly associated with formation of nuclear Polη foci, which co-localize with PCNA. We also show that Polκ has two functionally distinct PIP boxes, like Polη, whereas Polι has a single PIP box involved in stimulation of DNA synthesis. All three polymerases were additionally stimulated by mono-ubiquitinated PCNA in vitro. The three PIP boxes and a ubiquitin-binding zinc-finger of Polη exert redundant and additive effects in vivo via distinct molecular mechanisms. These findings provide an integrated picture of the orchestration of TLS polymerases.
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.