The ribonuclease (RNase) H class of enzymes degrades the RNA component of RNA:DNA hybrids and is important in nucleic acid metabolism. RNase H2 is specialized to remove single ribonucleotides [ribonucleoside monophosphates (rNMPs)] from duplex DNA, and its absence in budding yeast has been associated with the accumulation of deletions within short tandem repeats. Here, we demonstrate that rNMP-associated deletion formation requires the activity of Top1, a topoisomerase that relaxes supercoils by reversibly nicking duplex DNA. The reported studies extend the role of Top1 to include the processing of rNMPs in genomic DNA into irreversible single-strand breaks, an activity that can have distinct mutagenic consequences and may be relevant to human disease.
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