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Somatic hypermutation of immunoglobulin genes: lessons from proliferating cell nuclear antigenK164R mutant mice

By Petra Langerak, Peter H.L. Krijger, Marinus R. Heideman, Paul C.M. van den Berk and Heinz Jacobs


Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) encircles DNA as a ring-shaped homotrimer and, by tethering DNA polymerases to their template, PCNA serves as a critical replication factor. In contrast to high-fidelity DNA polymerases, the activation of low-fidelity translesion synthesis (TLS) DNA polymerases seems to require damage-inducible monoubiquitylation (Ub) of PCNA at lysine residue 164 (PCNA-Ub). TLS polymerases can tolerate DNA damage, i.e. they can replicate across DNA lesions. The lack of proofreading activity, however, renders TLS highly mutagenic. The advantage is that B cells use mutagenic TLS to introduce somatic mutations in immunoglobulin (Ig) genes to generate high-affinity antibodies. Given the critical role of PCNA-Ub in activating TLS and the role of TLS in establishing somatic mutations in immunoglobulin genes, we analysed the mutation spectrum of somatically mutated immunoglobulin genes in B cells from PCNAK164R knock-in mice. A 10-fold reduction in A/T mutations is associated with a compensatory increase in G/C mutations—a phenotype similar to Polη and mismatch repair-deficient B cells. Mismatch recognition, PCNA-Ub and Polη probably act within one pathway to establish the majority of mutations at template A/T. Equally relevant, the G/C mutator(s) seems largely independent of PCNAK164 modification

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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