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Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Jul 24. pii: gkz608. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz608. [Epub ahead of print]

Complementary roles of Pif1 helicase and single stranded DNA binding proteins in stimulating DNA replication through G-quadruplexes.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA.


G-quadruplexes (G4s) are stable secondary structures that can lead to the stalling of replication forks and cause genomic instability. Pif1 is a 5' to 3' helicase, localized to both the mitochondria and nucleus that can unwind G4s in vitro and prevent fork stalling at G4 forming sequences in vivo. Using in vitro primer extension assays, we show that both G4s and stable hairpins form barriers to nuclear and mitochondrial DNA polymerases δ and γ, respectively. However, while single-stranded DNA binding proteins (SSBs) readily promote replication through hairpins, SSBs are only effective in promoting replication through weak G4s. Using a series of G4s with increasing stabilities, we reveal a threshold above which G4 through-replication is inhibited even with SSBs present, and Pif1 helicase is required. Because Pif1 moves along the template strand with a 5'-3'-directionality, head-on collisions between Pif1 and polymerase δ or γ result in the stimulation of their 3'-exonuclease activity. Both nuclear RPA and mitochondrial SSB play a protective role during DNA replication by preventing excessive DNA degradation caused by the helicase-polymerase conflict.


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