Background: DnaA is an essential protein in the regulation and initiation of DNA replication in many bacteria. It forms a protein-DNA complex at oriC to which DnaC loads DnaB. DNA replication forks initiated at oriC by DnaA can collapse on route to the terminus for a variety of reasons. PriA, PriB, PriC, DnaT, Rep and DnaC form multiple pathways to restart repaired replication forks. DnaC809 and dnaC809,820 are suppressors of priA2::kan mutant phenotypes. The former requires PriC and Rep while the latter is independent of them. RnhA339::cat mutations allow DnaA-independent initiation of DNA replication.
Results: It is shown herein that a priC303::kan mutation is synthetically lethal with either a dnaA46 or dnaA508 temperature sensitive mutation at the permissive temperature of 30 degrees C. The priC-dnaA lethality is specific for the dnaA allele. The priC303::kan mutant was viable when placed in combination with either dnaA5, dnaA167, dnaA204 or dnaA602. The priC-dnaA508 and priC-dnaA46 lethality could be suppressed by rnhA339::cat. The priC-dnaA508 lethality could be suppressed by a dnaC809,820 mutation, but not dnaC809. Neither of the dnaC mutations could suppress the priC-dnaA46 lethality.
Conclusions: A hitherto unknown function for either DnaA in replication restart or PriC in initiation of DNA replication that occurs in certain dnaA temperature sensitive mutant strains at the permissive temperature of 30 degrees C has been documented. Models considering roles for PriC during initiation of DNA replication and roles for DnaA in replication restart were tested and found not to decisively explain the data. Other roles of dnaA in transcription and nucleoid structure are additionally considered.