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Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Sep;23(17):3450-60. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E11-12-1009. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Dual effect of heat shock on DNA replication and genome integrity.

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  • 1Institute of Gene Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119334 Moscow, Russia.


Heat shock (HS) is one of the better-studied exogenous stress factors. However, little is known about its effects on DNA integrity and the DNA replication process. In this study, we show that in G1 and G2 cells, HS induces a countable number of double-stranded breaks (DSBs) in the DNA that are marked by γH2AX. In contrast, in S-phase cells, HS does not induce DSBs but instead causes an arrest or deceleration of the progression of the replication forks in a temperature-dependent manner. This response also provoked phosphorylation of H2AX, which appeared at the sites of replication. Moreover, the phosphorylation of H2AX at or close to the replication fork rescued the fork from total collapse. Collectively our data suggest that in an asynchronous cell culture, HS might affect DNA integrity both directly and via arrest of replication fork progression and that the phosphorylation of H2AX has a protective effect on the arrested replication forks in addition to its known DNA damage signaling function.

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