Genome-wide identification of replication fork stalling/pausing sites and the interplay between RNA Pol II transcription and DNA replication progression

Genome Biol. 2024 May 21;25(1):126. doi: 10.1186/s13059-024-03278-8.


Background: DNA replication progression can be affected by the presence of physical barriers like the RNA polymerases, leading to replication stress and DNA damage. Nonetheless, we do not know how transcription influences overall DNA replication progression.

Results: To characterize sites where DNA replication forks stall and pause, we establish a genome-wide approach to identify them. This approach uses multiple timepoints during S-phase to identify replication fork/stalling hotspots as replication progresses through the genome. These sites are typically associated with increased DNA damage, overlapped with fragile sites and with breakpoints of rearrangements identified in cancers but do not overlap with replication origins. Overlaying these sites with a genome-wide analysis of RNA polymerase II transcription, we find that replication fork stalling/pausing sites inside genes are directly related to transcription progression and activity. Indeed, we find that slowing down transcription elongation slows down directly replication progression through genes. This indicates that transcription and replication can coexist over the same regions. Importantly, rearrangements found in cancers overlapping transcription-replication collision sites are detected in non-transformed cells and increase following treatment with ATM and ATR inhibitors. At the same time, we find instances where transcription activity favors replication progression because it reduces histone density.

Conclusions: Altogether, our findings highlight how transcription and replication overlap during S-phase, with both positive and negative consequences for replication fork progression and genome stability by the coexistence of these two processes.

Keywords: DNA damage; DNA replication; RNA Pol II transcription; Replication fork pausing/stalling; Replication fork speed; Replication stress; Transcription elongation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins / genetics
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Replication*
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • RNA Polymerase II* / metabolism
  • Replication Origin
  • S Phase / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic*