A double-edged sword: R loops as threats to genome integrity and powerful regulators of gene expression.
Skourti-Stathaki K., Proudfoot NJ.
R loops are three-stranded nucleic acid structures that comprise nascent RNA hybridized with the DNA template, leaving the nontemplate DNA single-stranded. R loops form naturally during transcription even though their persistent formation can be a risky outcome with deleterious effects on genome integrity. On the other hand, over the last few years, an increasingly strong case has been built for R loops as potential regulators of gene expression. Therefore, understanding their function and regulation under these opposite situations is essential to fully characterize the mechanisms that control genome integrity and gene expression. Here we review recent findings about these interesting structures that highlight their opposite roles in cellular fitness.