Genome Stability

Introns: Guardians of the genome

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Science  01 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6354, pp. 883-884
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6354.883-e

Introns are intragenic regions that are removed by RNA splicing. Bonnet et al. have discovered previously unknown functions of introns in counteracting transcription-associated genetic instability in yeast and human cells. Transcription naturally introduces DNA-RNA hybrids called R-loops that, left unresolved, could have deleterious effects on genome integrity. Intron-containing genes display fewer R-loops than intronless genes with similar transcription levels. Inserting introns that are defective in splicing, but capable of assembling ribonucleoproteins, is sufficient to reduce R-loop formation. Thus, introns prevent R-loop accumulation and subsequent DNA damage during transcription by promoting ribonucleoprotein complex formation.

Mol. Cell. 10.1016/j.molcel.2017.07.002 (2017).

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