Error-Prone Replication through UV Lesions by DNA Polymerase θ Protects against Skin Cancers

Jung Hoon Yoon, Mark J. McArthur, Jeseong Park, Debashree Basu, Maki Wakamiya, Louise Prakash, Satya Prakash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Cancers from sun-exposed skin accumulate “driver” mutations, causally implicated in oncogenesis. Because errors incorporated during translesion synthesis (TLS) opposite UV lesions would generate these mutations, TLS mechanisms are presumed to underlie cancer development. To address the role of TLS in skin cancer formation, we determined which DNA polymerase is responsible for generating UV mutations, analyzed the relative contributions of error-free TLS by Polη and error-prone TLS by Polθ to the replication of UV-damaged DNA and to genome stability, and examined the incidence of UV-induced skin cancers in Polθ−/−, Polη−/−, and Polθ−/− Polη−/− mice. Our findings that the incidence of skin cancers rises in Polθ−/− mice and is further exacerbated in Polθ−/− Polη−/− mice compared with Polη−/− mice support the conclusion that error-prone TLS by Polθ provides a safeguard against tumorigenesis and suggest that cancer formation can ensue in the absence of somatic point mutations. Both error-free TLS by DNA polymerase η and error-prone TLS by DNA polymerase θ through UV lesions protect against replication stress-induced chromosomal instability and prevent skin cancer formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1295-1309.e15
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 7 2019


  • DNA polymerase η
  • DNA polymerase θ
  • UV lesions
  • UV signature mutations
  • error-free translesion synthesis
  • error-prone translesion synthesis
  • genomic rearrangements
  • replication stress
  • replication through UV lesions
  • skin cancers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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