The mammalian DNA replication elongation checkpoint: implication of Chk1 and relationship with origin firing as determined by single DNA molecule and single cell analyses

Cell Cycle. 2007 Nov 15;6(22):2760-7. doi: 10.4161/cc.6.22.4932. Epub 2007 Aug 22.


The regulation of DNA replication initiation is well documented, for both unperturbed and damaged cells. The regulation of elongation, or fork velocity, however, has only recently been revealed with the advent of new techniques allowing us to view DNA replication at the single cell and single DNA molecule levels. Normally in S phase, the progression of replication forks and their stability are regulated by the ATR-Claspin-Chk1 pathway. We recently showed that replication fork velocity varies across the human genome in normal and cancer cells, but that the velocity of a given fork is positively correlated with the distance between origins on the same DNA fiber. (19) Accordingly, in DNA replication-deficient Bloom's syndrome cells, reduced fork velocity is associated with an increased density of replication origins. (21) Replication elongation is also regulated in response to DNA damage. In human colon carcinoma cells treated with the topoisomerase I inhibitor camptothecin, DNA replication is inhibited both at the level of initiation and at the level of elongation through a Chk1-dependent checkpoint mechanism. (10) Together, these new findings demonstrate that replication fork velocity (fork progression) is coordinated with inter-origin distance and that it can be actively slowed down by Chk1-dependent mechanisms in response to DNA damage. Thus, we propose that the intra-S phase checkpoint consist of at least three elements: (1) stabilization of damaged replication forks; (2) suppression of firing of late origins; and (3) arrests of normal ongoing forks to prevent further DNA lesions by replication of a damaged DNA template.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / physiology*
  • DNA Replication / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Peptide Elongation Factors / genetics
  • Peptide Elongation Factors / physiology
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Replication Origin / genetics*
  • Replication Origin / physiology


  • Peptide Elongation Factors
  • DNA
  • Protein Kinases
  • CHEK1 protein, human
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1