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.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.