Functional domains of the initiator protein DnaA of Escherichia coli have been defined. Domain 1, amino acids 1-86, is involved in oligomerization and in interaction with DnaB. Domain 2, aa 87-134, constitutes a flexible loop. Domain 3, aa 135-373, contains the binding site for ATP or ADP, the ATPase function, a second interaction site with DnaB, and is required for local DNA unwinding. Domain 4 is required and sufficient for specific binding to DNA. We show that there are three different types of cooperative interactions during the DNA binding of DnaA proteins from E. coli, Streptomyces lividans, and Thermus thermophilus: i) binding to distant binding sites; ii) binding to closely spaced binding sites; and iii) binding to non-canonical binding sites.