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Publication Detail

Title: Unravelling roles of error-prone DNA polymerases in shaping cancer genomes.

Authors: Vaziri, Cyrus; Rogozin, Igor B; Gu, Qisheng; Wu, Di; Day, Tovah A

Published In Oncogene, (2021 12)

Abstract: Mutagenesis is a key hallmark and enabling characteristic of cancer cells, yet the diverse underlying mutagenic mechanisms that shape cancer genomes are not understood. This review will consider the emerging challenge of determining how DNA damage response pathways-both tolerance and repair-act upon specific forms of DNA damage to generate mutations characteristic of tumors. DNA polymerases are typically the ultimate mutagenic effectors of DNA repair pathways. Therefore, understanding the contributions of DNA polymerases is critical to develop a more comprehensive picture of mutagenic mechanisms in tumors. Selection of an appropriate DNA polymerase-whether error-free or error-prone-for a particular DNA template is critical to the maintenance of genome stability. We review different modes of DNA polymerase dysregulation including mutation, polymorphism, and over-expression of the polymerases themselves or their associated activators. Based upon recent findings connecting DNA polymerases with specific mechanisms of mutagenesis, we propose that compensation for DNA repair defects by error-prone polymerases may be a general paradigm molding the mutational landscape of cancer cells. Notably, we demonstrate that correlation of error-prone polymerase expression with mutation burden in a subset of patient tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas can identify mechanistic hypotheses for further testing. We contrast experimental approaches from broad, genome-wide strategies to approaches with a narrower focus on a few hundred base pairs of DNA. In addition, we consider recent developments in computational annotation of patient tumor data to identify patterns of mutagenesis. Finally, we discuss the innovations and future experiments that will develop a more comprehensive portrait of mutagenic mechanisms in human tumors.

PubMed ID: 34663880 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: DNA Damage*; DNA Repair*; DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase/genetics; DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase/metabolism*; Genome, Human*; Genomic Instability*; Humans; Mutation*; Neoplasms/genetics; Neoplasms/pathology*

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