Fidelity of human DNA polymerase η

Robert E. Johnson, M. Todd Washington, Satya Prakash, Louise Prakash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

371 Scopus citations


Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) patients are highly sensitive to sunlight, and they suffer from a high incidence of skin cancers. The variant form of XP results from mutations in the hRAD30A gene, which encodes the DNA polymerase in humans, hPolη. Of the eukaryotic DNA polymerases, only human Polη and its yeast counterpart have the ability to replicate DNA containing a cis-syn thymine-thymine (T-T) dimer. Here we measure the fidelity of hPolη on all four nondamaged template bases and at each thymine residue of a cis-syn T-T dimer. Opposite all four nondamaged template bases, hPolη mis-incorporates nucleotides with a frequency of ~10-210-3, and importantly, hPolη synthesizes DNA opposite the T-T dimer with the same accuracy and efficiency as opposite the nondamaged DNA. The low fidelity of hPolη may derive from a flexible active site that renders the enzyme more tolerant of geometric distortions in DNA and enables it to synthesize DNA past a T-T dimer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7447-7450
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 17 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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