Gene Summary

Gene:POLH; DNA polymerase eta
Aliases: XPV, XP-V, RAD30, RAD30A
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the Y family of specialized DNA polymerases. It copies undamaged DNA with a lower fidelity than other DNA-directed polymerases. However, it accurately replicates UV-damaged DNA; when thymine dimers are present, this polymerase inserts the complementary nucleotides in the newly synthesized DNA, thereby bypassing the lesion and suppressing the mutagenic effect of UV-induced DNA damage. This polymerase is thought to be involved in hypermutation during immunoglobulin class switch recombination. Mutations in this gene result in XPV, a variant type of xeroderma pigmentosum. Several transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, May 2014]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:DNA polymerase eta
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (14)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (1)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Pyrimidine Dimers
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Caffeine
  • Genotype
  • Lung Cancer
  • Survival Rate
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Melanoma
  • Missense Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Base Sequence
  • Skin Cancer
  • Genetic Variation
  • DNA Replication
  • Heterozygote
  • Adolescents
  • Mutation
  • Breast Cancer
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Cell Line
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • DNA Repair
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • PCNA
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum Group D Protein
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • DNA Damage
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cultured Cells
  • siRNA
  • DNA
  • Chromosome 6
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Apoptosis
  • Messenger RNA
  • Skin
  • Fibroblasts
Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: POLH (cancer-related)

Girard E, Eon-Marchais S, Olaso R, et al.
Familial breast cancer and DNA repair genes: Insights into known and novel susceptibility genes from the GENESIS study, and implications for multigene panel testing.
Int J Cancer. 2019; 144(8):1962-1974 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Pathogenic variants in BRCA1 and BRCA2 only explain the underlying genetic cause of about 10% of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer families. Because of cost-effectiveness, multigene panel testing is often performed even if the clinical utility of testing most of the genes remains questionable. The purpose of our study was to assess the contribution of rare, deleterious-predicted variants in DNA repair genes in familial breast cancer (BC) in a well-characterized and homogeneous population. We analyzed 113 DNA repair genes selected from either an exome sequencing or a candidate gene approach in the GENESIS study, which includes familial BC cases with no BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and having a sister with BC (N = 1,207), and general population controls (N = 1,199). Sequencing data were filtered for rare loss-of-function variants (LoF) and likely deleterious missense variants (MV). We confirmed associations between LoF and MV in PALB2, ATM and CHEK2 and BC occurrence. We also identified for the first time associations between FANCI, MAST1, POLH and RTEL1 and BC susceptibility. Unlike other associated genes, carriers of an ATM LoF had a significantly higher risk of developing BC than carriers of an ATM MV (OR

Sagredo EA, Blanco A, Sagredo AI, et al.
ADAR1-mediated RNA-editing of 3'UTRs in breast cancer.
Biol Res. 2018; 51(1):36 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Whole transcriptome RNA variant analyses have shown that adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADAR) enzymes modify a large proportion of cellular RNAs, contributing to transcriptome diversity and cancer evolution. Despite the advances in the understanding of ADAR function in breast cancer, ADAR RNA editing functional consequences are not fully addressed.
RESULTS: We characterized A to G(I) mRNA editing in 81 breast cell lines, showing increased editing at 3'UTR and exonic regions in breast cancer cells compared to immortalized non-malignant cell lines. In addition, tumors from the BRCA TCGA cohort show a 24% increase in editing over normal breast samples when looking at 571 well-characterized UTRs targeted by ADAR1. Basal-like subtype breast cancer patients with high level of ADAR1 mRNA expression shows a worse clinical outcome and increased editing in their 3'UTRs. Interestingly, editing was particularly increased in the 3'UTRs of ATM, GINS4 and POLH transcripts in tumors, which correlated with their mRNA expression. We confirmed the role of ADAR1 in this regulation using a shRNA in a breast cancer cell line (ZR-75-1).
CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, these results revealed a significant association between the mRNA editing in genes related to cancer-relevant pathways and clinical outcomes, suggesting an important role of ADAR1 expression and function in breast cancer.

Marcussen M, Sønderkær M, Bødker JS, et al.
Oral mucosa tissue gene expression profiling before, during, and after radiation therapy for tonsil squamous cell carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2018; 13(1):e0190709 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Radiation-therapy (RT) induces mucositis, a clinically challenging condition with limited prophylactic interventions and no predictive tests. In this pilot study, we applied global gene-expression analysis on serial human oral mucosa tissue and blood cells from patients with tonsil squamous cell cancer (TSCC) to identify genes involved in mucositis pathogenesis.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: Eight patients with TSCC each provided consecutive buccal biopsies and blood cells before, after 7 days of RT treatment, and 20 days following RT. We monitored clinical mucositis and performed gene-expression analysis on tissue samples. We obtained control tissue from nine healthy individuals. After RT, expression was upregulated in apoptosis inducer and inhibitor genes, EDA2R and MDM2, and in POLH, a DNA-repair polymerase. Expression was downregulated in six members of the histone cluster family, e.g., HIST1H3B. Gene expression related to proliferation and differentiation was altered, including MKI67 (downregulated), which encodes the Ki-67-proliferation marker, and KRT16 (upregulated), which encodes keratin16. These alterations were not associated with the clinical mucositis grade. However, the expression of LY6G6C, which encodes a surface immunoregulatory protein, was upregulated before treatment in three cases of clinical none/mild mucositis, but not in four cases of ulcerative mucositis.
CONCLUSION: RT caused molecular changes related to apoptosis, DNA-damage, DNA-repair, and proliferation without a correlation to the severity of clinical mucositis. LY6G6C may be a potential protective biomarker for ulcerative mucositis. Based on these results, our study model of consecutive human biopsies will be useful in designing a prospective clinical validation trial to characterize molecular mucositis and identify predictive biomarkers.

Kindil Z, Senhaji MA, Bakhchane A, et al.
Genetic investigation of XPA gene: high frequency of the c.682C>T mutation in Moroccan XP patients with moderate clinical profile.
BMC Res Notes. 2017; 10(1):704 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a genetically and clinically heterogeneous disease, associated with an inherited defect in one of eight different genes (XPA to XPG and XPV). In addition to the early onset of the skin manifestations, the XP group A is marked by the presence of a mild to severe neural disorders which appear tardily and worsens with age. In this study, 9 patients with moderate clinical profile belonging to 6 XP families were recruited to determine the XPA mutational spectrum in Morocco, using the direct sequencing of the whole coding region of the XPA gene.
RESULTS: The genetic investigation of the XPA gene showed that 7 from 9 patients were homozygous for the c.682C>T, p.Arg228X mutation, while all their investigated family members were heterozygous. The frequency of this mutation was estimated to be 83.33% (5/6 families) .The molecular analysis of the 5 other exons of the XPA gene, showed that the 2 negative siblings carried no mutation in the XPA gene. This finding suggests that c.682C>T (p.Arg228X) mutation is relatively associated with moderate phenotype in XP group A Moroccan families; this result will also contribute to improve the molecular diagnosis of XP disease in Moroccan patients.

Musich PR, Li Z, Zou Y
Xeroderma Pigmentosa Group A (XPA), Nucleotide Excision Repair and Regulation by ATR in Response to Ultraviolet Irradiation.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017; 996:41-54 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The sensitivity of Xeroderma pigmentosa (XP) patients to sunlight has spurred the discovery and genetic and biochemical analysis of the eight XP gene products (XPA-XPG plus XPV) responsible for this disorder. These studies also have served to elucidate the nucleotide excision repair (NER) process, especially the critical role played by the XPA protein. More recent studies have shown that NER also involves numerous other proteins normally employed in DNA metabolism and cell cycle regulation. Central among these is ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR), a protein kinase involved in intracellular signaling in response to DNA damage, especially DNA damage-induced replicative stresses. This review summarizes recent findings on the interplay between ATR as a DNA damage signaling kinase and as a novel ligand for intrinsic cell death proteins to delay damage-induced apoptosis, and on ATR's regulation of XPA and the NER process for repair of UV-induced DNA adducts. ATR's regulatory role in the cytosolic-to-nuclear translocation of XPA will be discussed. In addition, recent findings elucidating a non-NER role for XPA in DNA metabolism and genome stabilization at ds-ssDNA junctions, as exemplified in prematurely aging progeroid cells, also will be reviewed.

Supek F, Lehner B
Clustered Mutation Signatures Reveal that Error-Prone DNA Repair Targets Mutations to Active Genes.
Cell. 2017; 170(3):534-547.e23 [PubMed] Related Publications
Many processes can cause the same nucleotide change in a genome, making the identification of the mechanisms causing mutations a difficult challenge. Here, we show that clustered mutations provide a more precise fingerprint of mutagenic processes. Of nine clustered mutation signatures identified from >1,000 tumor genomes, three relate to variable APOBEC activity and three are associated with tobacco smoking. An additional signature matches the spectrum of translesion DNA polymerase eta (POLH). In lymphoid cells, these mutations target promoters, consistent with AID-initiated somatic hypermutation. In solid tumors, however, they are associated with UV exposure and alcohol consumption and target the H3K36me3 chromatin of active genes in a mismatch repair (MMR)-dependent manner. These regions normally have a low mutation rate because error-free MMR also targets H3K36me3 chromatin. Carcinogens and error-prone repair therefore redistribute mutations to the more important regions of the genome, contributing a substantial mutation load in many tumors, including driver mutations.

De Palma A, Morren MA, Ged C, et al.
Diagnosis of Xeroderma pigmentosum variant in a young patient with two novel mutations in the POLH gene.
Am J Med Genet A. 2017; 173(9):2511-2516 [PubMed] Related Publications
We describe the characterization of Xeroderma Pigmentosum variant (XPV) in a young Caucasian patient with phototype I, who exhibited a high sensitivity to sunburn and multiple cutaneous tumors at the age of 15 years. Two novel mutations in the POLH gene, which encodes the translesion DNA polymerase η, with loss of function due to two independent exon skippings, are reported to be associated as a compound heterozygous state in the patient. Western blot analysis performed on proteins from dermal fibroblasts derived from the patient and analysis of the mutation spectrum on immunoglobulin genes produced during the somatic hypermutation process in his memory B cells, show the total absence of translesion polymerase η activity in the patient. The total lack of Polη activity, necessary to bypass in an error-free manner UVR-induced pyrimidine dimers following sun exposure, explains the early unusual clinical appearance of this patient.

Jalkh N, Chouery E, Haidar Z, et al.
Next-generation sequencing in familial breast cancer patients from Lebanon.
BMC Med Genomics. 2017; 10(1):8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Familial breast cancer (BC) represents 5 to 10% of all BC cases. Mutations in two high susceptibility BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes explain 16-40% of familial BC, while other high, moderate and low susceptibility genes explain up to 20% more of BC families. The Lebanese reported prevalence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 deleterious mutations (5.6% and 12.5%) were lower than those reported in the literature.
METHODS: In the presented study, 45 Lebanese patients with a reported family history of BC were tested using Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) technique followed by Sanger sequencing validation.
RESULTS: Nineteen pathogenic mutations were identified in this study. These 19 mutations were found in 13 different genes such as: ABCC12, APC, ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, CDH1, ERCC6, MSH2, POLH, PRF1, SLX4, STK11 and TP53.
CONCLUSIONS: In this first application of WES on BC in Lebanon, we detected six BRCA1 and BRCA2 deleterious mutations in seven patients, with a total prevalence of 15.5%, a figure that is lower than those reported in the Western literature. The p.C44F mutation in the BRCA1 gene appeared twice in this study, suggesting a founder effect. Importantly, the overall mutation prevalence was equal to 40%, justifying the urgent need to deploy WES for the identification of genetic variants responsible for familial BC in the Lebanese population.

Zhang J, Cheng R, Yu X, et al.
Expansion of the genotypic and phenotypic spectrum of xeroderma pigmentosum in Chinese population.
Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2017; 33(1):58-63 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare genodermatosis characterized by exaggerated sunburn reactions, freckle-like pigmentation, and a high possibility of developing cutaneous tumors. XP comprised seven complementation groups (from XP-A to XP-G) and a variant form XP-V.
METHODS: This study was based on five unrelated Chinese families with six patients clinically suspected to be XP. Mutation screening was performed by direct sequencing of the entire coding region of eight XP genes.
RESULTS: All of the pathogenic mutations were identified by mutational analysis, including four novel mutations.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study successfully identified the pathogenic mutations in six XP patients (three XP-A, one XP-G, one XP-V, and a rare XP-D group in Chinese population). We reviewed the reported XP cases with mutations in the Chinese population and concluded that four complementation groups (XP-A, XP-C, XP-G, and XP-V) that occupy the major proportion should be considered as a first step in genetic detection (especially, XPA is the most common group, and unlike in other populations, XP-G is not rare in the Chinese population). Moreover, XP-D and XP-F, two rare subgroups, should also be added for further mutational analysis. Further, we provide some information for Chinese dermatologists that, when an early diagnosis is made, XP-C and XP-V patients can have relatively good prognoses.

Munford V, Castro LP, Souto R, et al.
A genetic cluster of patients with variant xeroderma pigmentosum with two different founder mutations.
Br J Dermatol. 2017; 176(5):1270-1278 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare human syndrome associated with hypersensitivity to sunlight and a high frequency of skin tumours at an early age. We identified a community in the state of Goias (central Brazil), a sunny and tropical region, with a high incidence of XP (17 patients among approximately 1000 inhabitants).
OBJECTIVES: To identify gene mutations in the affected community and map the distribution of the affected alleles, correlating the mutations with clinical phenotypes.
METHODS: Functional analyses of DNA repair capacity and cell-cycle responses after ultraviolet exposure were investigated in cells from local patients with XP, allowing the identification of the mutated gene, which was then sequenced to locate the mutations. A specific assay was designed for mapping the distribution of these mutations in the community.
RESULTS: Skin primary fibroblasts showed normal DNA damage removal but abnormal DNA synthesis after ultraviolet irradiation and deficient expression of the Polη protein, which is encoded by POLH. We detected two different POLH mutations: one at the splice donor site of intron 6 (c.764 +1 G>A), and the other in exon 8 (c.907 C>T, p.Arg303X). The mutation at intron 6 is novel, whereas the mutation at exon 8 has been previously described in Europe. Thus, these mutations were likely brought to the community long ago, suggesting two founder effects for this rare disease.
CONCLUSIONS: This work describes a genetic cluster involving POLH, and, particularly unexpected, with two independent founder mutations, including one that likely originated in Europe.

Dai CH, Chen P, Li J, et al.
Co-inhibition of pol θ and HR genes efficiently synergize with cisplatin to suppress cisplatin-resistant lung cancer cells survival.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(40):65157-65170 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cisplatin exert its anticancer effect by creating intrastrand and interstrand DNA cross-links which block DNA replication and is a major drug used to treat lung cancer. However, the main obstacle of the efficacy of treatment is drug resistance. Here, we show that expression of translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerase Q (POLQ) was significantly elevated by exposure of lung cancer cells A549/DR (a cisplatin-resistant A549 cell line) to cisplatin. POLQ expression correlated inversely with homologous recombination (HR) activity. Co-depletion of BRCA2 and POLQ by siRNA markedly increased sensitivity of A549/DR cells to cisplatin, which was accompanied with impairment of double strand breaks (DSBs) repair reflected by prominent cell cycle checkpoint response, increased chromosomal aberrations and persistent colocalization of p-ATM and 53BP1 foci induced by cisplatin. Thus, co-knockdown of POLQ and HR can efficiently synergize with cisplatin to inhibit A549/DR cell survival by inhibiting DNA DSBs repair. Similar results were observed in A549/DR cells co-depleted of BRCA2 and POLQ following BMN673 (a PARP inhibitor) treatment. Importantly, the sensitization effects to cisplatin and BMN673 in A549/DR cells by co-depleting BRCA2 and POLQ was stronger than those by co-depleting BRCA2 and other TLS factors including POLH, REV3, or REV1. Our results indicate that there is a synthetic lethal relationship between pol θ-mediated DNA repair and HR pathways. Pol θ may be considered as a novel target for lung cancer therapy.

Steele EJ
Somatic hypermutation in immunity and cancer: Critical analysis of strand-biased and codon-context mutation signatures.
DNA Repair (Amst). 2016; 45:1-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
For 30 years two general mechanisms have competed to explain somatic hypermutation of immunoglobulin (Ig) genes. The first, the DNA-based model, is focused only on DNA substrates. The modern form is the Neuberger "DNA Deamination Model" based on activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) and short-patch error-prone DNA repair by DNA Polymerase-η operating around AID C-to-U lesions. The other is an RNA-based mechanism or the "Reverse Transcriptase Model" of SHM which produces strand-biased mutations at A:T and G:C base pairs. This involves error-prone cDNA synthesis via an RNA-dependent DNA polymerase copying the Ig pre-mRNA template and integrating the now error-filled cDNA copy back into the normal chromosomal site. The modern form of this mechanism depends on AID dC-to-dU lesions and long tract error-prone cDNA synthesis of the transcribed strand by DNA Polymerase-η acting as a reverse transcriptase. The evidence for and against each mechanism is critically evaluated. The conclusion is that all the SHM molecular data gathered since 1980 supports directly or indirectly the RNA/RT-based mechanism. All the data and critical analyses are systematically laid out so the reader can evaluate this conclusion for themselves. Recently we have investigated whether similar RNA/RT-based mutator mechanisms explain how de novo mutations arise in somatic tissues (cancer genomes). The data analyses indeed suggest that cancers arise via dysregulated "Ig-like SHM responses" involving rogue DNA and RNA deaminations coupled to genome-wide RT events. Further, Robyn Lindley has recently shown that the strand-biased mutations in cancer genome genes are also in "codon-context." This has been termed Targeted Somatic Mutation (TSM) to highlight that mutations are far more targeted than previously thought in somatic tissues associated with disease. The TSM process implies an "in-frame DNA reader" whereby DNA and RNA deaminases at transcribed regions are guided in their mutagenic action, by the codon reading frame of the DNA.

Yamashita T, Okura M, Ishii-Osai Y, Hida T
Diagnosis of eight groups of xeroderma pigmentosum by genetic complementation using recombinant adenovirus vectors.
J Dermatol. 2016; 43(10):1167-1173 [PubMed] Related Publications
Because patients with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) must avoid ultraviolet (UV) light from an early age, an early diagnosis of this disorder is essential. XP is composed of seven genetic complementation groups, XP-A to -G, and a variant type (XP-V). To establish an easy and accurate diagnosis of the eight disease groups, we constructed recombinant adenoviruses that expressed one of the XP cDNA. When fibroblasts derived from patients with XP-A, -B, -C, -D, -F or -G were infected with the adenovirus expressing XPA, XPB, XPC, XPD, XPF or XPG, respectively, and UV-C at 5-20 J/m

Fu L, Xu X, Ren R, et al.
Modeling xeroderma pigmentosum associated neurological pathologies with patients-derived iPSCs.
Protein Cell. 2016; 7(3):210-21 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a group of genetic disorders caused by mutations of XP-associated genes, resulting in impairment of DNA repair. XP patients frequently exhibit neurological degeneration, but the underlying mechanism is unknown, in part due to lack of proper disease models. Here, we generated patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) harboring mutations in five different XP genes including XPA, XPB, XPC, XPG, and XPV. These iPSCs were further differentiated to neural cells, and their susceptibility to DNA damage stress was investigated. Mutation of XPA in either neural stem cells (NSCs) or neurons resulted in severe DNA damage repair defects, and these neural cells with mutant XPA were hyper-sensitive to DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Thus, XP-mutant neural cells represent valuable tools to clarify the molecular mechanisms of neurological abnormalities in the XP patients.

Bowden NA, Beveridge NJ, Ashton KA, et al.
Understanding Xeroderma Pigmentosum Complementation Groups Using Gene Expression Profiling after UV-Light Exposure.
Int J Mol Sci. 2015; 16(7):15985-96 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Children with the recessive genetic disorder Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) have extreme sensitivity to UV-light, a 10,000-fold increase in skin cancers from age 2 and rarely live beyond 30 years. There are seven genetic subgroups of XP, which are all resultant of pathogenic mutations in genes in the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway and a XP variant resultant of a mutation in translesion synthesis, POLH. The clinical symptoms and severity of the disease is varied across the subgroups, which does not correlate with the functional position of the affected protein in the NER pathway. The aim of this study was to further understand the biology of XP subgroups, particularly those that manifest with neurological symptoms. Whole genome gene expression profiling of fibroblasts from each XP complementation group was assessed before and after UV-light exposure. The biological pathways with altered gene expression after UV-light exposure were distinct for each subtype and contained oncogenic related functions such as perturbation of cell cycle, apoptosis, proliferation and differentiation. Patients from the subgroups XP-B and XP-F were the only subgroups to have transcripts associated with neuronal activity altered after UV-light exposure. This study will assist in furthering our understanding of the different subtypes of XP which will lead to better diagnosis, treatment and management of the disease.

Aoufouchi S, De Smet A, Delbos F, et al.
129-Derived Mouse Strains Express an Unstable but Catalytically Active DNA Polymerase Iota Variant.
Mol Cell Biol. 2015; 35(17):3059-70 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mice derived from the 129 strain have a nonsense codon mutation in exon 2 of the polymerase iota (Polι) gene and are therefore considered Polι deficient. When we amplified Polι mRNA from 129/SvJ or 129/Ola testes, only a small fraction of the full-length cDNA contained the nonsense mutation; the major fraction corresponded to a variant Polι isoform lacking exon 2. Polι mRNA lacking exon 2 contains an open reading frame, and the corresponding protein was detected using a polyclonal antibody raised against the C terminus of the murine Polι protein. The identity of the corresponding protein was further confirmed by mass spectrometry. Although the variant protein was expressed at only 5 to 10% of the level of wild-type Polι, it retained de novo DNA synthesis activity, the capacity to form replication foci following UV irradiation, and the ability to rescue UV light sensitivity in Polι(-/-) embryonic fibroblasts derived from a new, fully deficient Polι knockout (KO) mouse line. Furthermore, in vivo treatment of 129-derived male mice with Velcade, a drug that inhibits proteasome function, stabilized and restored a substantial amount of the variant Polι in these animals, indicating that its turnover is controlled by the proteasome. An analysis of two xeroderma pigmentosum-variant (XPV) cases corresponding to missense mutants of Polη, a related translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerase in the same family, similarly showed a destabilization of the catalytically active mutant protein by the proteasome. Collectively, these data challenge the prevailing hypothesis that 129-derived strains of mice are completely deficient in Polι activity. The data also document, both for 129-derived mouse strains and for some XPV patients, new cases of genetic defects corresponding to the destabilization of an otherwise functional protein, the phenotype of which is reversible by proteasome inhibition.

Nymoen DA, Holth A, Hetland Falkenthal TE, et al.
CIAPIN1 and ABCA13 are markers of poor survival in metastatic ovarian serous carcinoma.
Mol Cancer. 2015; 14:44 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to investigate the expression and clinical role of 14 genes previously shown to be associated with chemotherapy response and/or progression-free survival in a smaller series of ovarian serous carcinoma effusions.
METHODS: Advanced-stage serous ovarian carcinoma effusions (n = 150) were analyzed for mRNA expression of AKR1C1, ABCA4, ABCA13, ABCB10, BIRC6, CASP9, CIAPIN1, FAS, MGMT, MUTYH, POLH, SRC, TBRKB and XPA using quantitative real-time PCR. mRNA expression was studied for association with clinicopathologic parameters, including chemotherapy response and survival.
RESULTS: ABCA4 mRNA expression was significantly related to better (complete) chemotherapy response at diagnosis in the entire cohort (p = 0.018), whereas higher POLH mRNA levels were significantly related to better chemoresponse at diagnosis in analysis to 58 patients with pre-chemotherapy effusions treated with standard chemotherapy (carboplatin + paclitaxel; p = 0.023). In univariate survival analysis for patients with pre-chemotherapy effusions (n = 77), CIAPIN1 mRNA expression was significantly related to shorter overall (p = 0.007) and progression-free (p = 0.038) survival, whereas ABCA13 mRNA expression was significantly related to shorter OS (p = 0.024). Higher CIAPIN1 mRNA expression was an independent marker of poor overall survival in Cox multivariate analysis (p = 0.044).
CONCLUSIONS: Our data identify ABCA4 and POLH as markers of better chemotherapy response in metastatic serous carcinoma. CIAPIN1 and ABCA13 may be novel markers of poor outcome in pre-chemotherapy serous carcinoma effusions.

Williams LN, Marjavaara L, Knowels GM, et al.
dNTP pool levels modulate mutator phenotypes of error-prone DNA polymerase ε variants.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(19):E2457-66 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mutator phenotypes create genetic diversity that fuels tumor evolution. DNA polymerase (Pol) ε mediates leading strand DNA replication. Proofreading defects in this enzyme drive a number of human malignancies. Here, using budding yeast, we show that mutator variants of Pol ε depend on damage uninducible (Dun)1, an S-phase checkpoint kinase that maintains dNTP levels during a normal cell cycle and up-regulates dNTP synthesis upon checkpoint activation. Deletion of DUN1 (dun1Δ) suppresses the mutator phenotype of pol2-4 (encoding Pol ε proofreading deficiency) and is synthetically lethal with pol2-M644G (encoding altered Pol ε base selectivity). Although pol2-4 cells cycle normally, pol2-M644G cells progress slowly through S-phase. The pol2-M644G cells tolerate deletions of mediator of the replication checkpoint (MRC) 1 (mrc1Δ) and radiation sensitive (Rad) 9 (rad9Δ), which encode mediators of checkpoint responses to replication stress and DNA damage, respectively. The pol2-M644G mutator phenotype is partially suppressed by mrc1Δ but not rad9Δ; neither deletion suppresses the pol2-4 mutator phenotype. Thus, checkpoint activation augments the Dun1 effect on replication fidelity but is not required for it. Deletions of genes encoding key Dun1 targets that negatively regulate dNTP synthesis, suppress the dun1Δ pol2-M644G synthetic lethality and restore the mutator phenotype of pol2-4 in dun1Δ cells. DUN1 pol2-M644G cells have constitutively high dNTP levels, consistent with checkpoint activation. In contrast, pol2-4 and POL2 cells have similar dNTP levels, which decline in the absence of Dun1 and rise in the absence of the negative regulators of dNTP synthesis. Thus, dNTP pool levels correlate with Pol ε mutator severity, suggesting that treatments targeting dNTP pools could modulate mutator phenotypes for therapy.

Ahmed-Seghir S, Pouvelle C, Despras E, et al.
Aberrant C-terminal domain of polymerase η targets the functional enzyme to the proteosomal degradation pathway.
DNA Repair (Amst). 2015; 29:154-65 [PubMed] Related Publications
Xeroderma pigmentosum variant (XP-V) is a rare genetic disease, characterized by sunlight sensitivity and predisposition to cutaneous malignancies. XP-V is caused by a deficiency in DNA polymerase eta (Polη) that plays a pivotal role in translesion synthesis by bypassing UV-induced pyrimidine dimers. Previously we identified a new Polη variant containing two missense mutations, one mutation within the bipartite NLS (T692A) and a second mutation on the stop codon (X714W) leading to a longer protein with an extra 8 amino acids (721 instead of 713 AA). First biochemical analysis revealed that this Polη missense variant was barely detectable by western blot. As this mutant is extremely unstable and is nearly undetectable, a definitive measure of its functional deficit in cells has not been explored. Here we report the molecular and cellular characterization of this missense variant. In cell free extracts, the extra 8 amino acids in the C-terminal of Polη(721) only slightly reduce the bypass efficiency through CPD lesions. In vivo, Polη(721) accumulates in replication factories and interacts with mUb-PCNA albeit at lower level than Polη(wt). XP-V cells overexpressing Polη(721) were only slightly UV-sensitive. Altogether, our data strongly suggest that Polη(721) is functional and that the patient displays a XP-V phenotype because the mutant protein is excessively unstable. We then investigated the molecular mechanisms involved in this excessive proteolysis. We showed that Polη(721) is degraded by the proteasome in an ubiquitin-dependent manner and that this proteolysis is independent of the E3 ligases, CRL4(cdt2) and Pirh2, reported to promote Polη degradation. We then demonstrated that the extra 8 amino acids of Polη(721) do not act as a degron but rather induce a conformational change of the Polη C-terminus exposing its bipartite NLS as well as a sequence close to its UBZ to the ubiquitin/proteasome system. Interestingly we showed that the clinically approved proteasome inhibitor, Bortezomib restores the levels of Polη(721) suggesting that this might be a therapeutic approach to preventing tumor development in certain XP-V patients harboring missense mutations.

Japp AS, Gessi M, Messing-Jünger M, et al.
High-resolution genomic analysis does not qualify atypical plexus papilloma as a separate entity among choroid plexus tumors.
J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2015; 74(2):110-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
Choroid plexus tumors are rare neoplasms that mainly affect children. They include papillomas, atypical papillomas, and carcinomas. Detailed genetic studies are rare, and information about their molecular pathogenesis is limited. Molecular inversion probe analysis is a hybridization-based method that represents a reliable tool for the analysis of highly fragmented formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue-derived DNA. Here, analysis of 62 cases showed frequent hyperdiploidy in papillomas and atypical papillomas that appeared very similar in their cytogenetic profiles. In contrast, carcinomas showed mainly losses of chromosomes. Besides recurrent focal chromosomal gains common to all choroid plexus tumors, including chromosome 14q21-q22 (harboring OTX2), chromosome 7q22 (LAMB1), and chromosome 9q21.12 (TRPM3), Genomic Identification of Significant Targets in Cancer analysis uncovered focal alterations specific for papillomas and atypical papillomas (e.g. 7p21.3 [ARL4A]) and for carcinomas (16p13.3 [RBFOX1] and 6p21 [POLH, GTPBP2, RSPH9, and VEGFA]). Additional RNA expression profiling and gene set enrichment analysis revealed greater expression of cell cycle-related genes in atypical papillomas in comparison with that in papillomas. These findings suggest that atypical papillomas represent an immature variant of papillomas characterized by increased proliferative activity, whereas carcinomas seem to represent a genetically distinct tumor group.

Karass M, Naguib MM, Elawabdeh N, et al.
Xeroderma pigmentosa: three new cases with an in depth review of the genetic and clinical characteristics of the disease.
Fetal Pediatr Pathol. 2015; 34(2):120-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by hypersensitivity of the skin and eyes to UV-radiation as a result of a defect in one of eight genes. Seven genes (XPA-XPG) have a defect in Nucletoide Excision Repair (NER), while the eighth gene XPV has a defect in polymerase η, which is responsible for replication of UV-damaged DNA to produce corrected daughter strands. We present the varied clinical courses of three African-American female patients with XP. Additionally, we present a review of the literature that focuses on the various clinical manifestations as well as the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying this disease.

Qian J, Pentz K, Zhu Q, et al.
USP7 modulates UV-induced PCNA monoubiquitination by regulating DNA polymerase eta stability.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(36):4791-6 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
DNA polymerase eta (Polη) has unique and pivotal functions in several DNA damage-tolerance pathways. Steady-state level of this short-lived protein is tightly controlled by multiple mechanisms including proteolysis. Here, we have identified the deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB), ubiquitin-specific protease 7 (USP7), as a novel regulator of Polη stability. USP7 regulates Polη stability through both indirect and direct mechanisms. Knockout of USP7 increased the steady-state level of Polη and slowed down the turnover of both Polη and p53 proteins through destabilizing their E3 ligase murine double minute 2 (Mdm2). Also, USP7 physically binds Polη in vitro and in vivo. Overexpression of wild-type USP7 but not its catalytically-defective mutants deubiquitinates Polη and increases its cellular steady-state level. Thus, USP7 directly serves as a specific DUB for Polη. Furthermore, ectopic expression of USP7 promoted the UV-induced proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) monoubiquitination in Polη-proficient but not in Polη-deficient XPV (Xeroderma pigmentosum variant) cells, suggesting that USP7 facilitates UV-induced PCNA monoubiquitination by stabilizing Polη. Taken together, our findings reveal a modulatory role of USP7 in PCNA ubiquitination-mediated stress-tolerance pathways by fine-tuning Polη turnover.

Ziv O, Zeisel A, Mirlas-Neisberg N, et al.
Identification of novel DNA-damage tolerance genes reveals regulation of translesion DNA synthesis by nucleophosmin.
Nat Commun. 2014; 5:5437 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cells cope with replication-blocking lesions via translesion DNA synthesis (TLS). TLS is carried out by low-fidelity DNA polymerases that replicate across lesions, thereby preventing genome instability at the cost of increased point mutations. Here we perform a two-stage siRNA-based functional screen for mammalian TLS genes and identify 17 validated TLS genes. One of the genes, NPM1, is frequently mutated in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). We show that NPM1 (nucleophosmin) regulates TLS via interaction with the catalytic core of DNA polymerase-η (polη), and that NPM1 deficiency causes a TLS defect due to proteasomal degradation of polη. Moreover, the prevalent NPM1c+ mutation that causes NPM1 mislocalization in ~30% of AML patients results in excessive degradation of polη. These results establish the role of NPM1 as a key TLS regulator, and suggest a mechanism for the better prognosis of AML patients carrying mutations in NPM1.

Lambert WC, Lambert MW
Development of effective skin cancer treatment and prevention in xeroderma pigmentosum.
Photochem Photobiol. 2015 Mar-Apr; 91(2):475-83 [PubMed] Related Publications
Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare, recessively transmitted genetic disease characterized by increasingly marked dyspigmentation and xerosis (dryness) of sun-exposed tissues, especially skin. Skin cancers characteristically develop in sun-exposed sites at very much earlier ages than in the general population; these are often multiple and hundreds or even thousands may develop. Eight complementation groups have been identified. Seven groups, XP-A…G, are associated with defective genes encoding proteins involved in the nucleotide excision DNA repair (NER) pathway that recognizes and excises mutagenic changes induced in DNA by sunlight; the eighth group, XP-V, is associated with defective translesion synthesis (TLS) bypassing such alterations. The dyspigmentation, xerosis and eventually carcinogenesis in XP patients appear to be due to their cells' failure to respond properly to these mutagenic DNA alterations, leading to mutations in skin cells. A subset of cases, especially those in some complementation groups, may develop neurological degeneration, which may be severe. However, in most XP patients, in the past the multiple skin cancers have led to death at an early age due to either metastases or sepsis. Using either topical 5-fluorouracil or imiquimod, we have developed a protocol that effectively prevents most skin cancer development in XP patients.

Sun Z, Zhang J, Guo Y, et al.
Genotype-phenotype correlation of xeroderma pigmentosum in a Chinese Han population.
Br J Dermatol. 2015; 172(4):1096-102 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by extreme sensitivity to sunlight, freckle-like pigmentation and a greatly increased incidence of skin cancers. Genetic mutation detection and genotype-phenotype analysis of XP are rarely reported in the Chinese Han population.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the mutational spectrum of XP in a Chinese Han population, to discover any genotype-phenotype correlation and, consequently, to propose a simple and effective tool for the molecular diagnosis of XP.
METHODS: This study was carried out on 12 unrelated Chinese families that included 13 patients with clinically suspected XP. Genomic DNA was extracted from peripheral blood samples. Mutation screening was performed by direct sequencing of exons and flanking intron-exon boundaries for the entire coding region of eight XP genes.
RESULTS: In 12 patients, direct sequencing of the whole coding region of eight XP genes revealed pathogenic mutations, including seven compound heterozygous mutations, three homozygous mutations and a Japanese founder mutation. Thirteen mutations have not been previously identified. This cohort was composed of four patients with XP-C (XPC), two with XP-G (ERCC5), three with XP-A (XPA) and three with XP-V (POLH).
CONCLUSIONS: This study identified 13 novel mutations and extended the mutation spectrum of XP in the Chinese Han population. In this cohort, we found that patients with XP-G have no neurological symptoms, and patients with XP-A and XP-V have a high incidence of malignancy. Furthermore, lack of stringent protection against sunlight, late diagnosis and long duration of disease play an important role.

Ben Rekaya M, Laroussi N, Messaoud O, et al.
A founder large deletion mutation in Xeroderma pigmentosum-Variant form in Tunisia: implication for molecular diagnosis and therapy.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:256245 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Xeroderma pigmentosum Variant (XP-V) form is characterized by a late onset of skin symptoms. Our aim is the clinical and genetic investigations of XP-V Tunisian patients in order to develop a simple tool for early diagnosis. We investigated 16 suspected XP patients belonging to ten consanguineous families. Analysis of the POLH gene was performed by linkage analysis, long range PCR, and sequencing. Genetic analysis showed linkage to the POLH gene with a founder haplotype in all affected patients. Long range PCR of exon 9 to exon 11 showed a 3926 bp deletion compared to control individuals. Sequence analysis demonstrates that this deletion has occurred between two Alu-Sq2 repetitive sequences in the same orientation, respectively, in introns 9 and 10. We suggest that this mutation POLH NG_009252.1: g.36847_40771del3925 is caused by an equal crossover event that occurred between two homologous chromosomes at meiosis. These results allowed us to develop a simple test based on a simple PCR in order to screen suspected XP-V patients. In Tunisia, the prevalence of XP-V group seems to be underestimated and clinical diagnosis is usually later. Cascade screening of this founder mutation by PCR in regions with high frequency of XP provides a rapid and cost-effective tool for early diagnosis of XP-V in Tunisia and North Africa.

Herman KN, Toffton S, McCulloch SD
Detrimental effects of UV-B radiation in a xeroderma pigmentosum-variant cell line.
Environ Mol Mutagen. 2014; 55(5):375-84 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
DNA polymerase η (pol η), of the Y-family, is well known for its in vitro DNA lesion bypass ability. The most well-characterized lesion bypassed by this polymerase is the cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD) caused by ultraviolet (UV) light. Historically, cellular and whole-animal models for this area of research have been conducted using UV-C (λ=100-280 nm) owing to its ability to generate large quantities of CPDs and also the more structurally distorting 6-4 photoproduct. Although UV-C is useful as a laboratory tool, exposure to these wavelengths is generally very low owing to being filtered by stratospheric ozone. We are interested in the more environmentally relevant wavelength range of UV-B (λ=280-315 nm) for its role in causing cytotoxicity and mutagenesis. We evaluated these endpoints in both a normal human fibroblast control line and a Xeroderma pigmentosum variant cell line in which the POLH gene contains a truncating point mutation, leading to a nonfunctional polymerase. We demonstrate that UV-B has similar but less striking effects compared to UV-C in both its cytotoxic and its mutagenic effects. Analysis of the mutation spectra after a single dose of UV-B shows that a majority of mutations can be attributed to mutagenic bypass of dipyrimidine sequences. However, we do note additional types of mutations with UV-B that are not previously reported after UV-C exposure. We speculate that these differences are attributed to a change in the spectra of photoproduct lesions rather than other lesions caused by oxidative stress.

Buisson R, Niraj J, Pauty J, et al.
Breast cancer proteins PALB2 and BRCA2 stimulate polymerase η in recombination-associated DNA synthesis at blocked replication forks.
Cell Rep. 2014; 6(3):553-64 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
One envisioned function of homologous recombination (HR) is to find a template for DNA synthesis from the resected 3'-OH molecules that occur during double-strand break (DSB) repair at collapsed replication forks. However, the interplay between DNA synthesis and HR remains poorly understood in higher eukaryotic cells. Here, we reveal functions for the breast cancer proteins BRCA2 and PALB2 at blocked replication forks and show a role for these proteins in stimulating polymerase η (Polη) to initiate DNA synthesis. PALB2, BRCA2, and Polη colocalize at stalled or collapsed replication forks after hydroxyurea treatment. Moreover, PALB2 and BRCA2 interact with Polη and are required to sustain the recruitment of Polη at blocked replication forks. PALB2 and BRCA2 stimulate Polη-dependent DNA synthesis on D loop substrates. We conclude that PALB2 and BRCA2, in addition to their functions in D loop formation, play crucial roles in the initiation of recombination-associated DNA synthesis by Polη-mediated DNA repair.

Zhou W, Chen YW, Liu X, et al.
Expression of DNA translesion synthesis polymerase η in head and neck squamous cell cancer predicts resistance to gemcitabine and cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(12):e83978 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
PURPOSE: The development of resistance against anticancer drugs has been a persistent clinical problem for the treatment of locally advanced malignancies in the head and neck mucosal derived squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Recent evidence indicates that the DNA translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerase η (Pol η; hRad30a gene) reduces the effectiveness of gemcitabine/cisplatin. The goal of this study is to examine the relationship between the expression level of Pol η and the observed resistance against these chemotherapeutic agents in HNSCC, which is currently unknown.
METHODS: Sixty-four mucosal derived squamous cell carcinomas of head and neck (HNSCC) from 1989 and 2007 at the City of Hope National Medical Center (Duarte, CA) were retrospectively analyzed. Pretreatment samples were immunostained with anti-Pol η antibody and the correlation between the expression level of Pol η and clinical outcomes were evaluated. Forty-nine cases treated with platinum (n=40) or gemcitabine (n=9) based chemotherapy were further examined for Pol η expression level for comparison with patient response to chemotherapy.
RESULTS: The expression of Pol η was elevated in 67% of the head and neck tumor samples. Pol η expression level was significantly higher in grade 1 to grade 2 tumors (well to moderately differentiated). The overall benefit rate (complete response+ partial response) in patients treated with platinum and gemcitabine based chemotherapy was 79.5%, where low Pol η level was significantly associated with high complete response rate (p=0.03), although not associated with overall survival. Furthermore, no significant correlation was observed between Pol η expression level with gender, age, tobacco/alcohol history, tumor stage and metastatic status.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that Pol η expression may be a useful prediction marker for the effectiveness of platinum or gemcitabine based therapy for HNSCC.

Opletalova K, Bourillon A, Yang W, et al.
Correlation of phenotype/genotype in a cohort of 23 xeroderma pigmentosum-variant patients reveals 12 new disease-causing POLH mutations.
Hum Mutat. 2014; 35(1):117-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
Xeroderma pigmentosum variant (XP-V) is a rare genetic disease, characterized by some sunlight sensitivity and predisposition to cutaneous malignancies. We described clinical and genetic features of the largest collection ever published of 23 XPV patients (ages between 21 and 86) from 20 unrelated families. Primary fibroblasts from patients showed normal nucleotide excision repair but UV-hypersensitivity in the presence of caffeine, a signature of the XP-V syndrome. 87% of patients developed skin tumors with a median age of 21 for the first occurrence. The median numbers of basal-cell carcinoma was 13 per patient, six for squamous-cell carcinoma, and five for melanoma. XP-V is due to defects in the translesion-synthesis DNA polymerase Polη coded by the POLH gene. DNA sequencing of POLH revealed 29 mutations, where 12 have not been previously identified, leading to truncated polymerases in 69% of patients. Four missense mutations are correlated with the protein stability by structural modeling of the Polη polymerase domain. There is a clear relationship between the types of missense mutations and clinical severity. For truncating mutations, which lead to an absence of or to inactive proteins, the life-cumulated UV exposure is probably the best predictor of cancer incidence, reinforcing the necessity to protect XP-Vs from sun exposure.

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