DNA polymerases play essential functions in replication fork progression and genome maintenance. DNA lesions and drug-induced replication stress result in up-regulation and relocalization of specialized DNA polymerases η and κ. Although oncogene activation significantly alters DNA replication dynamics, causing replication stress and genome instability, little is known about DNA polymerase expression and regulation in response to oncogene activation. Here, we investigated the consequences of mutant H-RAS G12V overexpression on the regulation of DNA polymerases in h-TERT immortalized and SV40-transformed human cells. Focusing on DNA polymerases associated with the replication fork, we demonstrate that DNA polymerases are depleted in a temporal manner in response to H-RAS G12V overexpression. The polymerases targeted for depletion, as cells display markers of senescence, include the Pol α catalytic subunit (POLA1), Pol δ catalytic and p68 subunits (POLD1 and POLD3), Pol η, and Pol κ. Both transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms mediate this response. Pol η (POLH) depletion is sufficient to induce a senescence-like growth arrest in human foreskin fibroblast BJ5a cells, and is associated with decreased Pol α expression. Using an SV-40 transformed cell model, we observed cell cycle checkpoint signaling differences in cells with H-RasG12V-induced polymerase depletion, as compared to Pol η-deficient cells. Our findings contribute to our understanding of cellular events following oncogene activation and cellular transformation.
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