Prevention and repair of DNA damage is essential for maintenance of genomic stability and cell survival. DNA replication during S-phase can be a source of DNA damage if endogenous or exogenous stresses impair the progression of replication forks. It has become increasingly clear that DNA-damage-response pathways do not only respond to the presence of damaged DNA, but also modulate DNA replication dynamics to prevent DNA damage formation during S-phase. Such observations may help explain the developmental defects or cancer predisposition caused by mutations in DNA-damage-response genes. The present review focuses on molecular mechanisms by which DNA-damage-response pathways control and promote replication dynamics in vertebrate cells. In particular, DNA damage pathways contribute to proper replication by regulating replication initiation, stabilizing transiently stalled forks, promoting replication restart and facilitating fork movement on difficult-to-replicate templates. If replication fork progression fails to be rescued, this may lead to DNA damage and genomic instability via nuclease processing of aberrant fork structures or incomplete sister chromatid separation during mitosis.

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