Eukaryotic DNA replication initiates at multiple origins. In early fly and frog embryos, chromosomal replication is very rapid and initiates without sequence specificity. Despite this apparent randomness, the spacing of these numerous initiation sites must be sufficiently regular for the genome to be completely replicated on time. Studies in various eukaryotes have revealed that there is a strict temporal separation of origin "licensing" prior to S phase and origin activation during S phase. This may suggest that replicon size must be already established at the licensing stage. However, recent experiments suggest that a large excess of potential origins are assembled along chromatin during licensing. Thus, a regular replicon size may result from the selection of origins during S phase. We review single molecule analyses of origin activation and other experiments addressing this issue and their general significance for eukaryotic DNA replication.
Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.