The activities of eukaryotic replication origins in chromatin

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Mar 15;1677(1-3):142-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bbaexp.2003.11.015.


DNA replication initiates at chromosomal positions called replication origins. This review will focus on the activity, regulation and roles of replication origins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. All eukaryotic cells, including S. cerevisiae, depend on the initiation (activity) of hundreds of replication origins during a single cell cycle for the duplication of their genomes. However, not all origins are identical. For example, there is a temporal order to origin activation with some origins firing early during the S-phase and some origins firing later. Recent studies provide evidence that posttranslational chromatin modifications, heterochromatin-binding proteins and nucleosome positioning can control the efficiency and/or timing of chromosomal origin activity in yeast. Many more origins exist than are necessary for efficient replication. The availability of excess replication origins leaves individual origins free to evolve distinct forms of regulation and/or roles in chromosomes beyond their fundamental role in DNA synthesis. We propose that some origins have acquired roles in controlling chromatin structure and/or gene expression. These roles are not linked obligatorily to replication origin activity per se, but instead exploit multi-subunit replication proteins with the potential to form context-dependent protein-protein interactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Nucleosomes / genetics
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Replication Origin*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Silent Information Regulator Proteins, Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Silent Information Regulator Proteins, Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Telomere / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes
  • Silent Information Regulator Proteins, Saccharomyces cerevisiae