The "enemies within": regions of the genome that are inherently difficult to replicate

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An unusual feature of many eukaryotic genomes is the presence of regions that appear intrinsically difficult to copy during the process of DNA replication. Curiously, the location of these difficult-to-replicate regions is often conserved between species, implying a valuable role in some aspect of genome organization or maintenance. The most prominent class of these regions in mammalian cells is defined as chromosome fragile sites, which acquired their name because of a propensity to form visible gaps/breaks on otherwise-condensed chromosomes in mitosis. This fragility is particularly apparent following perturbation of DNA replication-a phenomenon often referred to as "replication stress". Here, we review recent data on the molecular basis for chromosome fragility and the role of fragile sites in the etiology of cancer. In particular, we highlight how studies on fragile sites have provided unexpected insights into how the DNA repair machinery assists in the completion of DNA replication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number666
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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ID: 188370048