Repeat RNAs associate with replication forks and post-replicative DNA

RNA. 2020 Sep;26(9):1104-1117. doi: 10.1261/rna.074757.120. Epub 2020 May 11.


Noncoding RNA has a proven ability to direct and regulate chromatin modifications by acting as scaffolds between DNA and histone-modifying complexes. However, it is unknown if ncRNA plays any role in DNA replication and epigenome maintenance, including histone eviction and reinstallment of histone modifications after genome duplication. Isolation of nascent chromatin has identified a large number of RNA-binding proteins in addition to unknown components of the replication and epigenetic maintenance machinery. Here, we isolated and characterized long and short RNAs associated with nascent chromatin at active replication forks and track RNA composition during chromatin maturation across the cell cycle. Shortly after fork passage, GA-rich-, alpha- and TElomeric Repeat-containing RNAs (TERRA) are associated with replicated DNA. These repeat containing RNAs arise from loci undergoing replication, suggesting an interaction in cis. Post-replication during chromatin maturation, and even after mitosis in G1, the repeats remain enriched on DNA. This suggests that specific types of repeat RNAs are transcribed shortly after DNA replication and stably associate with their loci of origin throughout the cell cycle. The presented method and data enable studies of RNA interactions with replication forks and post-replicative chromatin and provide insights into how repeat RNAs and their engagement with chromatin are regulated with respect to DNA replication and across the cell cycle.

Keywords: DNA replication; RNA; chromatin; repeats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Replication / genetics*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Histones / genetics
  • Humans
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics*
  • RNA / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • RNA
  • DNA