Patricia L. Foster, professor emerita of Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Biology, is the first author on an article in the American Society for Microbiology's journal mBio.
DNA replication and transcription occur on the same DNA template, making it likely for frequent encounters between the two machines. Genomic disruption can occur when the encounters are head-to-head; however, it is debatable whether such replication-transcription conflicts contribute to spontaneous mutations.
Foster and her colleagues analyzed in detail a large collection of mutations generated with mismatch repair-defective strains of Escherichia coli bacteria. They discovered that across the genome there are no significant differences in mutation frequencies between genes oriented codirectionally and those oriented head-on to replication.