Molecular cell

Histone Mutants Separate R Loop Formation from Genome Instability Induction.

PMID 28575656


R loops have positive physiological roles, but they can also be deleterious by causing genome instability, and the mechanisms for this are unknown. Here we identified yeast histone H3 and H4 mutations that facilitate R loops but do not cause instability. R loops containing single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), versus RNA-DNA hybrids alone, were demonstrated using ssDNA-specific human AID and bisulfite. Notably, they are similar size regardless of whether or not they induce genome instability. Contrary to mutants causing R loop-mediated instability, these histone mutants do not accumulate H3 serine-10 phosphate (H3S10-P). We propose a two-step mechanism in which, first, an altered chromatin facilitates R loops, and second, chromatin is modified, including H3S10-P, as a requisite for compromising genome integrity. Consistently, these histone mutations suppress the high H3S10 phosphorylation and genomic instability of hpr1 and sen1 mutants. Therefore, contrary to what was previously believed, R loops do not cause genome instability by themselves.