R-loops, formed by co-transcriptional DNA-RNA hybrids and a displaced DNA single strand (ssDNA), fulfill certain positive regulatory roles but are also a source of genomic instability. One key cellular mechanism to prevent R-loop accumulation centers on the conserved THO/TREX complex, an RNA-binding factor involved in transcription elongation and RNA export that contributes to messenger ribonucleoprotein (mRNP) assembly, but whose precise function is still unclear. To understand how THO restrains harmful R-loops, we searched for new THO-interacting factors. We found that human THO interacts with the Sin3A histone deacetylase complex to suppress co-transcriptional R-loops, DNA damage, and replication impairment. Functional analyses show that histone hypo-acetylation prevents accumulation of harmful R-loops and RNA-mediated genomic instability. Diminished histone deacetylase activity in THO- and Sin3A-depleted cell lines correlates with increased R-loop formation, genomic instability, and replication fork stalling. Our study thus uncovers physical and functional crosstalk between RNA-binding factors and chromatin modifiers with a major role in preventing R-loop formation and RNA-mediated genome instability.
Keywords: DNA–RNA hybrids; Sin3A deacetylase; THO/TREX; genome instability; histone acetylation.
© 2017 The Authors.