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Transfer RNA (tRNA) genes are widely studied sites of replication-fork pausing and genome instability in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae tRNAs are extremely highly transcribed and serve as constitutive condensin binding sites. tRNA transcription by RNA polymerase III has previously been identified as stimulating replication-fork pausing at tRNA genes, but the nature of the block to replication has not been incontrovertibly demonstrated. Here, we describe a systematic, genome-wide analysis of the contributions of candidates to replication-fork progression at tDNAs in yeast: transcription factor binding, transcription, topoisomerase activity, condensin-mediated clustering, and Rad18-dependent DNA repair. We show that an asymmetric block to replication is maintained even when tRNA transcription is abolished by depletion of one or more subunits of RNA polymerase III. By contrast, analogous depletion of the essential transcription factor TFIIIB removes the obstacle to replication. Therefore, our data suggest that the RNA polymerase III transcription complex itself represents an asymmetric obstacle to replication even in the absence of RNA synthesis. We additionally demonstrate that replication-fork progression past tRNA genes is unaffected by the global depletion of condensin from the nucleus, and can be stimulated by the removal of topoisomerases or Rad18-dependent DNA repair pathways. Copyright © 2020 by the Genetics Society of America.


Rani Yeung, Duncan J Smith. Determinants of Replication-Fork Pausing at tRNA Genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics. 2020 Apr;214(4):825-838

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PMID: 32071194

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