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Mol Cell. 2012 Apr 27;46(2):115-24. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.04.009.

R loops: from transcription byproducts to threats to genome stability.

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CABIMER, Universidad de Sevilla-CSIC, Av. Américo Vespucio s/n, 41092 Sevilla, Spain.


RNA:DNA hybrid structures known as R loops were thought to be rare byproducts of transcription. In the last decade, however, accumulating evidence has pointed to a new view in which R loops form more frequently, impacting transcription and threatening genome integrity as a source of chromosome fragility and a potential cause of disease. Not surprisingly, cells have evolved mechanisms to prevent cotranscriptional R loop formation. Here we discuss the factors and cellular processes that control R loop formation and the mechanisms by which R loops may influence gene expression and the integrity of the genome.

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