Next Article in Journal
Telomeres and Telomerase in Cardiovascular Diseases
Next Article in Special Issue
Reappearance from Obscurity: Mammalian Rad52 in Homologous Recombination
Previous Article in Journal
Possible Therapeutic Doses of Cannabinoid Type 1 Receptor Antagonist Reverses Key Alterations in Fragile X Syndrome Mouse Model
Previous Article in Special Issue
Remodeling and Control of Homologous Recombination by DNA Helicases and Translocases that Target Recombinases and Synapsis
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview

DNA Polymerases λ and β: The Double-Edged Swords of DNA Repair

Institute of Molecular Genetics, IGM-CNR, via Abbiategrasso 207, 27100 Pavia, Italy
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Richard T. Pomerantz
Genes 2016, 7(9), 57;
Received: 1 June 2016 / Revised: 30 July 2016 / Accepted: 24 August 2016 / Published: 31 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Replication and Transcription Associated DNA Repair)
PDF [261 KB, uploaded 31 August 2016]


DNA is constantly exposed to both endogenous and exogenous damages. More than 10,000 DNA modifications are induced every day in each cell’s genome. Maintenance of the integrity of the genome is accomplished by several DNA repair systems. The core enzymes for these pathways are the DNA polymerases. Out of 17 DNA polymerases present in a mammalian cell, at least 13 are specifically devoted to DNA repair and are often acting in different pathways. DNA polymerases β and λ are involved in base excision repair of modified DNA bases and translesion synthesis past DNA lesions. Polymerase λ also participates in non-homologous end joining of DNA double-strand breaks. However, recent data have revealed that, depending on their relative levels, the cell cycle phase, the ratio between deoxy- and ribo-nucleotide pools and the interaction with particular auxiliary proteins, the repair reactions carried out by these enzymes can be an important source of genetic instability, owing to repair mistakes. This review summarizes the most recent results on the ambivalent properties of these enzymes in limiting or promoting genetic instability in mammalian cells, as well as their potential use as targets for anticancer chemotherapy. View Full-Text
Keywords: DNA polymerases; DNA repair; translesion synthesis; cancer chemotherapy; mutagenesis DNA polymerases; DNA repair; translesion synthesis; cancer chemotherapy; mutagenesis

Graphical abstract

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Mentegari, E.; Kissova, M.; Bavagnoli, L.; Maga, G.; Crespan, E. DNA Polymerases λ and β: The Double-Edged Swords of DNA Repair. Genes 2016, 7, 57.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Genes EISSN 2073-4425 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top