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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 11;108(2):792-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009564108. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

Transcription termination maintains chromosome integrity.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.


DNA replication fork movement is impeded by collisions with transcription elongation complexes (TEC). We propose that a critical function of transcription termination factors is to prevent TEC from blocking DNA replication and inducing replication fork arrest, one consequence of which is DNA double-strand breaks. We show that inhibition of Rho-dependent transcription termination by bicyclomycin in Escherichia coli induced double-strand breaks. Cells deleted for Rho-cofactors nusA and nusG were hypersensitive to bicyclomycin, and had extensive chromosome fragmentation even in the absence of the drug. An RNA polymerase mutation that destabilizes TEC (rpoB*35) increased bicyclomycin resistance >40-fold. Double-strand break formation depended on DNA replication, and can be explained by replication fork collapse. Deleting recombination genes required for replication fork repair (recB and ruvC) increased sensitivity to bicyclomycin, as did loss of the replication fork reloading helicases rep and priA. We propose that Rho responds to a translocating replisome by releasing obstructing TEC.

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