Direct Restart of a Replication Fork Stalled by a Head-On RNA Polymerase
In vivo studies suggest that replication forks are arrested by encounters with head-on transcription complexes. Yet, the fate of the replisome and RNA polymerase (RNAP) after a head-on collision is unknown. We found that the Escherichia coli replisome stalls upon collision with a head-on transcription complex, but instead of collapsing, the replication fork remains highly stable and eventually resumes elongation after displacing the RNAP from DNA. We also found that the transcription-repair coupling factor Mfd promotes direct restart of the fork after the collision by facilitating displacement of the RNAP. These findings demonstrate the intrinsic stability of the replication apparatus and a previously unknown role for the transcription-coupled repair pathway in promoting replication past a RNAP block.