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BLM helicase suppresses recombination at G-quadruplex motifs in transcribed genes

By Niek van Wietmarschen, Sarra Merzouk, Nancy Halsema, Diana C.J. Spierings, Victor Guryev, Peter M. Lansdorp

Posted 07 Aug 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/173252 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02760-1)

Bloom syndrome is a cancer predisposition disorder caused by mutations in the BLM helicase gene. Cells from persons with Bloom syndrome exhibit striking genomic instability characterized by excessive sister chromatid exchange events (SCEs). We applied single-cell DNA template strand-sequencing (Strand-seq) to map the genomic locations of SCEs at a resolution that is orders of magnitude better than was previously possible. Our results show that, in the absence of BLM, sister chromatid exchanges in human and murine cells do not occur randomly throughout the genome but are strikingly enriched at coding regions, specifically at sites of putative guanine quadruplex (G4) motifs in transcribed genes. We propose that BLM protects against genome instability by suppressing recombination at sites of G4 structures, particularly in transcribed regions of the genome.

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