1. Chromosomes and Gene Expression
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Harmful DNA:RNA hybrids are formed in cis and in a Rad51-independent manner

  1. Juan Lafuente-Barquero
  2. Maria Luisa García-Rubio
  3. Marta San Martin-Alonso
  4. Belén Gómez-González  Is a corresponding author
  5. Andrés Aguilera  Is a corresponding author
  1. Biotech Research and Innovation Centre-BRIC, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. CABIMER, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain
  3. Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e56674 doi: 10.7554/eLife.56674


DNA:RNA hybrids constitute a well-known source of recombinogenic DNA damage. The current literature is in agreement with DNA:RNA hybrids being produced co-transcriptionally by the invasion of the nascent RNA molecule produced in cis with its DNA template. However, it has also been suggested that recombinogenic DNA:RNA hybrids could be facilitated by the invasion of RNA molecules produced in trans in a Rad51-mediated reaction. Here, we tested the possibility that such DNA:RNA hybrids constitute a source of recombinogenic DNA damage taking advantage of Rad51-independent single-strand annealing (SSA) assays in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. For this, we used new constructs designed to induce expression of mRNA transcripts in trans with respect to the SSA system. We show that unscheduled and recombinogenic DNA:RNA hybrids that trigger the SSA event are formed in cis during transcription and in a Rad51-independent manner. We found no evidence that such hybrids form in trans and in a Rad51-dependent manner.

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All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for all graphs.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Juan Lafuente-Barquero

    Department of Health and Medical Sciences, Biotech Research and Innovation Centre-BRIC, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  2. Maria Luisa García-Rubio

    Department of Molecular Biology, CABIMER, Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  3. Marta San Martin-Alonso

    Department of Human Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  4. Belén Gómez-González

    Department of Genetics, CABIMER, Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, Spain
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1655-8407
  5. Andrés Aguilera

    Department of Molecular Biology, CABIMER, Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    Andrés Aguilera, Reviewing editor, eLife.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-4782-1714


Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (BFU2016-75058-P)

  • Andrés Aguilera

European Union

  • Andrés Aguilera

Spanish Association Against Cancer

  • Belén Gómez-González

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, University of California, Davis, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: March 5, 2020
  2. Accepted: August 3, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 4, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 17, 2020 (version 2)


© 2020, Lafuente-Barquero et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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