PRIMPOL ready, set, reprime!

Stephanie Tirman, Emily Cybulla, Annabel Quinet, Alice Meroni, Alessandro Vindigni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


DNA replication forks are constantly challenged by DNA lesions induced by endogenous and exogenous sources. DNA damage tolerance mechanisms ensure that DNA replication continues with minimal effects on replication fork elongation either by using specialized DNA polymerases, which have the ability to replicate through the damaged template, or by skipping the damaged DNA, leaving it to be repaired after replication. These mechanisms are evolutionarily conserved in bacteria, yeast, and higher eukaryotes, and are paramount to ensure timely and faithful duplication of the genome. The Primase and DNA-directed Polymerase (PRIMPOL) is a recently discovered enzyme that possesses both primase and polymerase activities. PRIMPOL is emerging as a key player in DNA damage tolerance, particularly in vertebrate and human cells. Here, we review our current understanding of the function of PRIMPOL in DNA damage tolerance by focusing on the structural aspects that define its dual enzymatic activity, as well as on the mechanisms that control its chromatin recruitment and expression levels. We also focus on the latest findings on the mitochondrial and nuclear functions of PRIMPOL and on the impact of loss of these functions on genome stability and cell survival. Defining the function of PRIMPOL in DNA damage tolerance is becoming increasingly important in the context of human disease. In particular, we discuss recent evidence pointing at the PRIMPOL pathway as a novel molecular target to improve cancer cell response to DNA-damaging chemotherapy and as a predictive parameter to stratify patients in personalized cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-30
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • DNA damage tolerance
  • DNA polymerases
  • DNA repair
  • DNA replication
  • DNA replication stress
  • genome stability
  • repriming


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