To ensure the completion of DNA replication and maintenance of genome integrity, DNA repair factors protect stalled replication forks upon replication stress. Previous studies have identified a critical role for the tumor suppressors BRCA1 and BRCA2 in preventing the degradation of nascent DNA by the MRE11 nuclease after replication stress. Here we show that depletion of SMARCAL1, a SNF2-family DNA translocase that remodels stalled forks, restores replication fork stability and reduces the formation of replication stress-induced DNA breaks and chromosomal aberrations in BRCA1/2-deficient cells. In addition to SMARCAL1, other SNF2-family fork remodelers, including ZRANB3 and HLTF, cause nascent DNA degradation and genomic instability in BRCA1/2-deficient cells upon replication stress. Our observations indicate that nascent DNA degradation in BRCA1/2-deficient cells occurs as a consequence of MRE11-dependent nucleolytic processing of reversed forks generated by fork remodelers. These studies provide mechanistic insights into the processes that cause genome instability in BRCA1/2-deficient cells.
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