Altered spectra of hypermutation in DNA repair-deficient mice

D. B. Winter, P. J. Gearhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Affinity maturation of the humoral immune response is based on the ability of immunoglobulin variable genes to undergo a process of rapid and extensive somatic mutation followed by antigenic selection for antibodies with higher affinity. While the behaviour of this somatic hypermutation phenomenon has been well characterized over the last 20 years, the molecular mechanism responsible for inserting mutations has remained shrouded. To better understand this mechanism, we studied the interplay between hypermutation and other DNA associated activities such as DNA repair. There was no effect on the frequency and pattern of hypermutation in mice deficient for nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair and ataxia-telangiectasia mutated gene repair of double strand breaks. However, variable genes from mice lacking some components of mismatch repair had an increased frequency of tandem mutations and had more mutations of G and C nucleotides. These results suggest that the DNA polymerase(s) involved in the hypermutation pathway produces a unique spectra of mutations, which is then altered by mismatch repair and antigenic selection. We also describe the differential pattern of expression of some nuclear DNA polymerases in hypermutating versus non-hypermutating B lymphocytes. The rapidly dividing germinal centre B cells expressed DNA polymerases alpha, beta, delta, epsilon and zeta, whereas the resting non-germinal centre cells did not express polymerases alpha or epsilon at detectable levels, although they did express polymerases beta, delta and zeta. The lack of expression of polymerase epsilon in the non-germinal centre cells suggests that this enzyme has a critical role in chromosomal replication but does not participate in DNA repair in these cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1405
StatePublished - Jan 29 2001


  • Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated
  • Base excision repair
  • DNA polymerases
  • Mismatch repair
  • Nucleotide excision repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Altered spectra of hypermutation in DNA repair-deficient mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this