Mammalian chromosomes initiate DNA replication at multiple sites along their length during each S phase following a temporal replication program. The majority of genes on homologous chromosomes replicate synchronously. However, mono-allelically expressed genes such as imprinted genes, allelically excluded genes, and genes on female X chromosomes replicate asynchronously. We have identified a cis-acting locus on human chromosome 6 that controls this replication-timing program. This locus encodes a large intergenic non-coding RNA gene named Asynchronous replication and Autosomal RNA on chromosome 6, or ASAR6. Disruption of ASAR6 results in delayed replication, delayed mitotic chromosome condensation, and activation of the previously silent alleles of mono-allelic genes on chromosome 6. The ASAR6 gene resides within an ~1.2 megabase domain of asynchronously replicating DNA that is coordinated with other random asynchronously replicating loci along chromosome 6. In contrast to other nearby mono-allelic genes, ASAR6 RNA is expressed from the later-replicating allele. ASAR6 RNA is synthesized by RNA Polymerase II, is not polyadenlyated, is restricted to the nucleus, and is subject to random mono-allelic expression. Disruption of ASAR6 leads to the formation of bridged chromosomes, micronuclei, and structural instability of chromosome 6. Finally, ectopic integration of cloned genomic DNA containing ASAR6 causes delayed replication of entire mouse chromosomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research