Electron microscopy (EM) was used to visualize intermediates of in vitro replication of closed circular DNA plasmids. Cell-free extracts were prepared from human cells that are proficient (IDH4, HeLa) or deficient (CTag) in bypass replication of pyrimidine dimers. The DNA substrate was either undamaged or contained a single cis, syn thymine dimer. This lesion was inserted 385 bp downstream from the center of the SV40 origin of replication and sited specifically in the template to the leading strand of the newly synthesized DNA. Products from 30 minute reactions were crosslinked with psoralen and UV, linearized with restriction enzymes and spread for EM visualization. Extended single-stranded DNA regions were detected in damaged molecules replicated by either bypass-proficient or deficient extracts. These regions could be coated with Escherichia coli single-stranded DNA binding protein. The length of duplex DNA from a unique restriction site to the single-stranded DNA region was that predicted from blockage of leading strand synthesis by the site-specific dimer. These results were confirmed by S1nuclease treatment of replication products linearized with single cutting restriction enzymes, followed by detection of the diagnostic fragments by gel electrophoresis. The absence of an extended single-stranded DNA region in replication forks that were clearly beyond the dimer was taken as evidence of bypass replication. These criteria were fulfilled in 17 % of the molecules replicated by the IDH4 extract.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.