DNA-RNA hybrids associated with R-loops promote DNA damage and genomic instability. The capacity of hybrids at different genomic sites to cause DNA damage was not known, and the mechanisms leading from hybrid to damage were poorly understood. Here, we adopt a new strategy to map and characterize the sites of hybrid-induced damage genome-wide in budding yeast. We show that hybrid removal is essential for life because persistent hybrids cause irreparable DNA damage and cell death. We identify that a subset of hybrids is prone to cause damage, and the chromosomal context of hybrids dramatically impacts their ability to induce damage. Furthermore, persistent hybrids affect the repair pathway, generating large regions of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) by two distinct mechanisms, likely resection and re-replication. These damaged regions may act as potential precursors to gross chromosomal rearrangements like deletions and duplications that are associated with R-loops and cancers.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.