Inter-Fork Strand Annealing causes genomic deletions during the termination of DNA replication.
Morrow CA., Nguyen MO., Fower A., Wong IN., Osman F., Bryer C., Whitby MC.
Problems that arise during DNA replication can drive genomic alterations that are instrumental in the development of cancers and many human genetic disorders. Replication fork barriers are a commonly encountered problem, which can cause fork collapse and act as hotspots for replication termination. Collapsed forks can be rescued by homologous recombination, which restarts replication. However, replication restart is relatively slow and, therefore, replication termination may frequently occur by an active fork converging on a collapsed fork. We find that this type of non-canonical fork convergence in fission yeast is prone to trigger deletions between repetitive DNA sequences via a mechanism we call Inter-Fork Strand Annealing (IFSA) that depends on the recombination proteins Rad52, Exo1 and Mus81, and is countered by the FANCM-related DNA helicase Fml1. Based on our findings, we propose that IFSA is a potential threat to genomic stability in eukaryotes.