Title: DNA Polymerase β in the Context of Cancer

Danielle L. Sawyer, Joann B. Sweasy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


DNA polymerase beta (Pol β) is a 39 kD vertebrate polymerase that lacks proofreading ability, yet still maintains a moderate fidelity of DNA synthesis. Pol b is a key enzyme that functions in the base excision repair and non-homologous end joining pathways of DNA repair. Mechanisms of fidelity for Pol β are still being elucidated but are likely to involve dynamic conformational motions of the enzyme upon its binding to DNA and deoxynucleoside triphosphates. Recent studies have linked germline and somatic variants of Pol β with cancer and autoimmunity. These variants induce genomic instability by a number of mechanisms, including error-prone DNA synthesis and accumulation of single nucleotide gaps that lead to replication stress. Here, we review the structure and function of Pol β, and we provide insights into how structural changes in Pol β variants may contribute to genomic instability, mutagenesis, disease, cancer development, and impacts on treatment outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCritical reviews in oncogenesis
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • DNA polymerase beta
  • DNA repair
  • base excision repair
  • fidelity of DNA synthesis
  • oncogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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