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Insertions and deletions (indels) are common sources of structural variation, and insertions originating from spontaneous DNA lesions are frequent in cancer. We developed a highly sensitive assay called insertion and deletion sequencing (Indel-seq) to monitor rearrangements in human cells at the TRIM37 acceptor locus that reports indels stemming from experimentally induced and spontaneous genome instability. Templated insertions, which derive from sequences genome wide, require contact between donor and acceptor loci, require homologous recombination, and are stimulated by DNA end-processing. Insertions are facilitated by transcription and involve a DNA/RNA hybrid intermediate. Indel-seq reveals that insertions are generated via multiple pathways. The broken acceptor site anneals with a resected DNA break or invades the displaced strand of a transcription bubble or R-loop, followed by DNA synthesis, displacement, and then ligation by non-homologous end joining. Our studies identify transcription-coupled insertions as a critical source of spontaneous genome instability that is distinct from cut-and-paste events. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Jaewon Min, Junfei Zhao, Jennifer Zagelbaum, Jina Lee, Sho Takahashi, Portia Cummings, Allana Schooley, Job Dekker, Max E Gottesman, Raul Rabadan, Jean Gautier. Mechanisms of insertions at a DNA double-strand break. Molecular cell. 2023 Jul 20;83(14):2434-2448.e7

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PMID: 37402370

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