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The N2 position of guanine (G) is one of the major sites for DNA modification by various carcinogens. Eight oligonucleotides with varying adduct bulk at guanine N2 were analyzed for catalytic efficiency and fidelity with human DNA polymerase (pol) eta, which is involved in translesion synthesis (TLS). Pol eta effectively bypassed N2-methyl(Me)G, N2-ethyl(Et)G, N2-isobutyl(Ib)G, N2-benzyl(Bz)G, and N2-CH2(2-naphthyl)G but was severely blocked at N2-CH2(9-anthracenyl)G (N2-AnthG) and N2-CH2(6-benzo[a]pyrenyl)G (N2-BPG). Steady-state kinetic analysis showed proportional decreases of kcat/Km in dCTP insertion opposite N2-AnthG and N2-BPG (73 and 320-fold) and also kcat/Km in next-base extension from a C paired with each adduct (15 and 51-fold relative to G). Frequencies of dATP misinsertion and extension beyond mispairs were also proportionally increased (70 and 450-fold; 12 and 44-fold) with N2-AnthG and N2-BPG, indicating the effect of adduct bulk on blocking and misincorporation in TLS by pol eta. N2-AnthG and N2-BPG also greatly decreased the pre-steady-state kinetic burst rate (25 and 125-fold) compared to unmodified G. N2-AnthG decreased dCTP binding affinity (2.6-fold) and increased DNA substrate binding affinity. These results and the small kinetic thio effects (S(p)-dCTPalphaS) suggest that the early steps, possibly conformational change, are interfered with by the bulky adducts. In contrast, human pol delta bypassed adducts effectively up to N2-EtG but was strongly blocked by N2-IbG and larger adducts. We conclude that TLS DNA polymerases may be required for the efficient bypass of pol delta-blocking N2-G adducts bulkier than N2-EtG in human cells, and the bulk size can be a major factor for efficient and error-free bypass at these adducts by TLS DNA polymerases.