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Kent T, Mateos-Gomez PA, Sfeir A, Pomerantz RT
Polymerase theta is a robust terminal transferase that oscillates between three different mechanisms during end-joining
Elife (2016) In process.
DNA polymerase theta (Poltheta) promotes insertion mutations during alternative end-joining (alt-EJ) by an unknown mechanism. Here, we discover that mammalian Poltheta transfers nucleotides to the 3' terminus of DNA during alt-EJ in vitro and in vivo by oscillating between three different modes of terminal transferase activity: non-templated extension, templated extension in cis, and templated extension in trans. This switching mechanism requires manganese as a co-factor for Poltheta template-independent activity and allows for random combinations of templated and non-templated nucleotide insertions. We further find that Poltheta terminal transferase activity is most efficient on DNA containing 3' overhangs, is facilitated by an insertion loop and conserved residues that hold the 3' primer terminus, and is surprisingly more proficient than terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase. In summary, this report identifies an unprecedented switching mechanism used by Poltheta to generate genetic diversity during alt-EJ and characterizes Poltheta as among the most proficient terminal transferases known.
Publication Date: 2016-06-17.
PMCID: PMC4912351
Last updated on Friday, July 10, 2020