Replication Stalling at Friedreich's Ataxia (GAA)n Repeats In Vivo

Maria M. Krasilnikova, Sergei M. Mirkin

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177 Scopus citations


Friedreich's ataxia (GAA)n repeats of various lengths were cloned into a Saccharymyces cerevisiae plasmid, and their effects on DNA replication were analyzed using two-dimensional electrophoresis of replication intermediates. We found that premutation- and disease-size repeats stalled the replication fork progression in vivo, while normal-size repeats did not affect replication. Remarkably, the observed threshold repeat length for replication stalling in yeast (∼40 repeats) closely matched the threshold length for repeat expansion in humans. Further, replication stalling was strikingly orientation dependent, being pronounced only when the repeat's homopurine strand served as the lagging strand template. Finally, it appeared that length polymorphism of the (GAA)n · (TTC)n repeat in both expansions and contractions drastically increases in the repeat's orientation that is responsible for the replication stalling. These data represent the first direct proof of the effects of (GAA)n repeats on DNA replication in vivo. We believe that repeat-caused replication attenuation in vivo is due to triplex formation. The apparent link between the replication stalling and length polymorphism of the repeat points to a new model for the repeat expansion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2286-2295
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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