The fidelity of DNA synthesis by yeast DNA polymerase zeta alone and with accessory proteins

Xuejun Zhong, Parie Garg, Carrie M. Stith, Stephanie A.Nick McElhinny, Grace E. Kissling, Peter M.J. Burgers, Thomas A. Kunkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


DNA polymerase zeta (pol ζ) participates in several DNA transactions in eukaryotic cells that increase spontaneous and damage-induced mutagenesis. To better understand this central role in mutagenesis in vivo, here we report the fidelity of DNA synthesis in vitro by yeast pol ζ alone and with RFC, PCNA and RPA. Overall, the accessory proteins have little effect on the fidelity of pol ζ. Pol ζ is relatively accurate for single base insertion/deletion errors. However, the average base substitution fidelity of pol ζ is substantially lower than that of homologous B family pols α, δ and ε. Pol ζ is particularly error prone for substitutions in specific sequence contexts and generates multiple single base errors clustered in short patches at a rate that is unprecedented in comparison with other polymerases. The unique error specificity of pol ζ in vitro is consistent with Pol ζ-dependent mutagenic specificity reported in vivo. This fact, combined with the high rate of single base substitution errors and complex mutations observed here, indicates that pol ζ contributes to mutagenesis in vivo not only by extending mismatches made by other polymerases, but also by directly generating its own mismatches and then extending them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4731-4742
Number of pages12
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 2006


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