A pinch of RNA spices up DNA repair

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Science  14 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6407, pp. 1069-1070
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau9194

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When DNA is replicated by DNA polymerases, deoxyribonucleotides are incorporated, whereas when DNA is transcribed by RNA polymerases, ribonucleotides are used. The misincorporation of ribonucleotides into DNA occurs frequently during DNA replication (1). However, the presence of ribonucleotides in DNA makes it more fragile and threatens genome stability that needs to be maintained for faithful transmission of genetic information. To counteract this, cells have evolved efficient ribonucleotide removal strategies that rely on ribonuclease H2 (RNase H2) (2). On page 1126 of this issue, Pryor et al. (3) report the surprising discovery that ribonucleotides are frequently incorporated at broken DNA ends, which enhances repair. This important finding overturns the central dogma of molecular biology by demonstrating that transient incorporation of ribonucleotides in DNA has a biological function.