DNA-RNA hybrids play a physiological role in cellular processes, but often, they represent non-scheduled co-transcriptional structures with a negative impact on transcription, replication and DNA repair. Accumulating evidence suggests that they constitute a source of replication stress, DNA breaks and genome instability. Reciprocally, DNA breaks facilitate DNA-RNA hybrid formation by releasing the double helix torsional conformation. Cells avoid DNA-RNA accumulation by either preventing or removing hybrids directly or by DNA repair-coupled mechanisms. Given the R-loop impact on chromatin and genome organization and its potential relation with genetic diseases, we review R-loop homeostasis as well as their physiological and pathological roles.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.