We have ablated the cellular RNA degradation machinery in differentiated B cells and pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) by conditional mutagenesis of core (Exosc3) and nuclear RNase (Exosc10) components of RNA exosome and identified a vast number of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and enhancer RNAs (eRNAs) with emergent functionality. Unexpectedly, eRNA-expressing regions accumulate R-loop structures upon RNA exosome ablation, thus demonstrating the role of RNA exosome in resolving deleterious DNA/RNA hybrids arising from active enhancers. We have uncovered a distal divergent eRNA-expressing element (lncRNA-CSR) engaged in long-range DNA interactions and regulating IgH 3' regulatory region super-enhancer function. CRISPR-Cas9-mediated ablation of lncRNA-CSR transcription decreases its chromosomal looping-mediated association with the IgH 3' regulatory region super-enhancer and leads to decreased class switch recombination efficiency. We propose that the RNA exosome protects divergently transcribed lncRNA expressing enhancers by resolving deleterious transcription-coupled secondary DNA structures, while also regulating long-range super-enhancer chromosomal interactions important for cellular function.
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