Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30598553
Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 2019 01;26(1):58-66
Common fragile sites (CFSs) are loci that are hypersensitive to replication stress and hotspots for chromosomal rearrangements in cancers. CFSs replicate late in S phase, are cell-type specific and nest in large genes. The relative impact of transcription-replication conflicts versus a low density in initiation events on fragility is currently debated. Here we addressed the relationships between transcription, replication, and instability by manipulating the transcription of endogenous large genes in chicken and human cells. We found that inducing low transcription with a weak promoter destabilized large genes, whereas stimulating their transcription with strong promoters alleviated instability. Notably, strong promoters triggered a switch to an earlier replication timing, supporting a model in which high transcription levels give cells more time to complete replication before mitosis. Transcription could therefore contribute to maintaining genome integrity, challenging the dominant view that it is exclusively a threat.