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Review
. 2013 Oct 1;5(10):a010116.
doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a010116.

DNA Replication Origins

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Free PMC article
Review

DNA Replication Origins

Alan C Leonard et al. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The onset of genomic DNA synthesis requires precise interactions of specialized initiator proteins with DNA at sites where the replication machinery can be loaded. These sites, defined as replication origins, are found at a few unique locations in all of the prokaryotic chromosomes examined so far. However, replication origins are dispersed among tens of thousands of loci in metazoan chromosomes, thereby raising questions regarding the role of specific nucleotide sequences and chromatin environment in origin selection and the mechanisms used by initiators to recognize replication origins. Close examination of bacterial and archaeal replication origins reveals an array of DNA sequence motifs that position individual initiator protein molecules and promote initiator oligomerization on origin DNA. Conversely, the need for specific recognition sequences in eukaryotic replication origins is relaxed. In fact, the primary rule for origin selection appears to be flexibility, a feature that is modulated either by structural elements or by epigenetic mechanisms at least partly linked to the organization of the genome for gene expression.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Revised versions of the replicon model for all domains of life. For cells of each domain type, trans-acting initiators recognize replication origins to assemble prereplicative complexes required to unwind the DNA and load DNA helicase. Eukaryotic initiators are preassembled into hexameric origin recognition complexes (ORCs) before interacting with DNA. In prokaryotes, single initiators (archaeal Orc1/Cdc6 or bacterial DnaA) bind to recognition sites and assemble into complexes on DNA. In all cases, the DNA helicases (MCMs or DnaB) are recruited to the origin and loaded onto single DNA strands. In bacteria, DNA-bending proteins, such as Fis or IHF, may modulate the assembly of pre-RC by bending the origin DNA. Two activities of DnaA are described in the figure. The larger version binds to recognition sites, and the smaller version represents DnaA required to assist DnaC in loading DnaB helicase on single-stranded DNA.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Functional elements in some well-studied prokaryotic replication origins. (A) Bacterial oriCs. The DNA elements described in the text are (arrows) DnaA recognition boxes or (boxes) DNA unwinding elements (DUEs). When recognition site affinities are known, colored arrows designate high- (Kd > 100 nm) and low- (Kd < 100 nm) affinity sites. (B) Archaeal oriCs. Arrows and boxes designate DNA elements as in A, but the initiator protein is Orc1/Cdc6 rather than DnaA. (Thick arrows) Long origin recognition boxes (ORBs); (thin arrows) shorter versions (miniORBs). Both ORBs and miniORBs are identified in Pyrococcus. DUEs are not yet well defined for Helicobacter or Sulfolobus genera and are not labeled in this figure.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
S. cerevisiae replication origins. Elements found at S. cerevisiae origins are represented, including the ACS and B elements. The main proteins that bind to these elements and that constitute the pre-RC are indicated.
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
From replication origins to replicon clusters. Replicons are organized as functional domains that contain several potential DNA replication origins (on average five), already licensed. A single origin is activated per replicon during the S phase. The origin choice within each replicon can occur stochastically or can be influenced by specific cell fates or transcriptional activity. Replicon clusters include several consecutive replicons that are activated simultaneously (Berezney et al. 2000). Replicons could be organized in chromatin loops where activation of one origin silences the other origins within the same replicon.

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