DNA-RNA hybrids: the risks of DNA breakage during transcription

Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2017 May 4;24(5):439-443. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.3395.


Although R loops can occur at different genomic locations, the factors that determine their formation and frequency remain unclear. Emerging evidence indicates that DNA breaks stimulate DNA-RNA hybrid formation. Here, we discuss the possibility that formation of hybrids may be an inevitable risk of DNA breaks that occur within actively transcribed regions. While such hybrids must be removed to permit repair, their potential role as repair intermediates remains to be established.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Breaks*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Chemical
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • RNA
  • DNA