Gene architecture is a determinant of the transcriptional response to bulky DNA damages

May Merav, Elnatan M. Bitensky, Elisheva E. Heilbrun, Tamar Hacohen, Ayala Kirshenbaum, Hadar Golan-Berman, Yuval Cohen, Sheera Adar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bulky DNA damages block transcription and compromise genome integrity and function. The cellular response to these damages includes global transcription shutdown. Still, active transcription is necessary for transcription-coupled repair and for induction of damage-response genes. To uncover common features of a general bulky DNA damage response, and to identify response-related transcripts that are expressed despite damage, we performed a systematic RNA-seq study comparing the transcriptional response to three independent damage-inducing agents: UV, the chemo-therapy cisplatin, and benzo[a]pyrene, a component of cigarette smoke. Reduction in gene expression after damage was associated with higher damage rates, longer gene length, and low GC content. We identified genes with relatively higher expression after all three damage treatments, including NR4A2, a potential novel damage-response transcription factor. Up-regulated genes exhibit higher exon content that is associated with preferential repair, which could enable rapid damage removal and transcription restoration. The attenuated response to BPDE highlights that not all bulky damages elicit the same response. These findings frame gene architecture as a major determinant of the transcriptional response that is hardwired into the human genome.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere202302328
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology


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