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DNA combing versus DNA spreading and the separation of sister chromatids.

DNA combing and DNA spreading are two central approaches for studying DNA replication fork dynamics genome-wide at single-molecule resolution by distributing labeled genomic DNA on coverslips or slides for immunodetection. Perturbations in DNA replication fork dynamics can differentially affect either leading or lagging strand synthesis, for example, in instances where replication is blocked by a lesion or obstacle on only one of the two strands. Thus, we sought to investigate whether the DNA combing and/or spreading approaches are suitable for resolving adjacent sister chromatids during DNA replication, thereby enabling the detection of DNA replication dynamics within individual nascent strands. To this end, we developed a thymidine labeling scheme that discriminates between these two possibilities. Our data suggests that DNA combing resolves sister chromatids, allowing the detection of strand-specific alterations, whereas DNA spreading typically does not. These findings have important implications when interpreting DNA replication dynamics from data obtained by these two commonly used techniques.

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