Open clamp structure in the clamp-loading complex visualized by electron microscopic image analysis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Sep 27;102(39):13795-800. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0506447102. Epub 2005 Sep 16.


Ring-shaped sliding clamps and clamp loader ATPases are essential factors for rapid and accurate DNA replication. The clamp ring is opened and resealed at the primer-template junctions by the ATP-fueled clamp loader function. The processivity of the DNA polymerase is conferred by its attachment to the clamp loaded onto the DNA. In eukarya and archaea, the replication factor C (RFC) and the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) play crucial roles as the clamp loader and the clamp, respectively. Here, we report the electron microscopic structure of an archaeal RFC-PCNA-DNA complex at 12-A resolution. This complex exhibits excellent fitting of each atomic structure of RFC, PCNA, and the primed DNA. The PCNA ring retains an open conformation by extensive interactions with RFC, with a distorted spring washer-like conformation. The complex appears to represent the intermediate, where the PCNA ring is kept open before ATP hydrolysis by RFC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Archaeal / chemistry
  • DNA, Archaeal / ultrastructure*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / chemistry
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / ultrastructure*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Pyrococcus furiosus / genetics*
  • Pyrococcus furiosus / metabolism


  • DNA, Archaeal
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Pfu DNA polymerase
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase