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Simple base damages are repaired through a short-patch base excision pathway where a single damaged nucleotide is removed and replaced. DNA polymerase beta (Pol beta) is responsible for the repair synthesis in this pathway and also removes a 5'-sugar phosphate residue by catalyzing a beta-elimination reaction. How ever, some DNA lesions that render deoxyribose resistant to beta-elimination are removed through a long-patch repair pathway that involves strand displacement synthesis and removal of the generated flap by specific endonuclease. Three human DNA polymerases (Pol beta, Pol delta and Pol epsilon) have been proposed to play a role in this pathway, however the identity of the polymerase involved and the polymerase selection mechanism are not clear. In repair reactions catalyzed by cell extracts we have used a substrate containing a reduced apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) site resistant to beta-elimination and inhibitors that selectively affect different DNA polymerases. Using this approach we find that in human cell extracts Pol beta is the major DNA polymerase incorporating the first nucleotide during repair of reduced AP sites, thus initiating long-patch base excision repair synthesis.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1477 - 1482


Aphidicolin, DNA, DNA Polymerase III, DNA Polymerase beta, DNA Repair, Dideoxynucleosides, Humans, Models, Genetic, Substrate Specificity