A simple bypass assay for Gilles Crevel, Stephen Kearsey, Sue Cotterill
DNA polymerases shows that cancer‐associated hypermutating variants exhibit differences in vitro
- Cell Biology
- Molecular Biology
Errors made by DNA polymerases contribute to both natural variation and, in extreme cases, genome instability and its associated diseases. Recently, the importance of polymerase misincorporation in disease has been highlighted by the identification of cancer‐associated polymerase variants with mutations in the exonuclease domain. A subgroup of these variants have a hypermutation phenotype in tumours, and when modelled in yeast, they show mutation rates in excess of that seen with polymerase with simple loss of proofreading activity. We have developed a bypass assay to rapidly determine the tendency of a polymerase to misincorporate in vitro. We have used the assay to compare misincorporation by wild‐type, exonuclease‐defective and two hypermutating human DNA polymerase ε variants, P286R and V411L. The assay clearly distinguished between the misincorporation rates of wild‐type, exonuclease dead and P286R polymerases. However, the V411L polymerase showed misincorporation rate comparable to the exonuclease dead enzyme rather than P286R, suggesting that there may be some differences in the way that these variants cause hypermutation. Using this assay, misincorporation opposite a templated C nucleotide was consistently higher than for other nucleotides, and this caused predominantly C‐to‐T transitions. This is consistent with the observation that C‐to‐T transitions are commonly seen in DNA polymerase ε mutant tumours.