Functions of human DNA polymerases η, κ and ι suggested by their properties, including fidelity with undamaged DNA templates

Thomas A. Kunkel, Youri I. Pavlov, Katarzyna Bebenek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

114 Scopus citations


Human DNA polymerases η, κ and ι are template-dependent, Y-family DNA polymerases that have been implicated in translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) in human cells. Here, we briefly review evidence that these exonuclease-deficient polymerases copy undamaged DNA with very low fidelity and unusual error specificity. Based on the base substitution specificity and other biochemical properties of DNA polymerases η and ι, we consider the possibility that they participate in specialized DNA transactions that repair damaged DNA and/or generate mutations in the variable regions of immunoglobulin genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-149
Number of pages15
JournalDNA Repair
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 3 2003



  • DNA replication fidelity
  • Somatic hypermutation
  • Y-family DNA polymerases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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