Replication Initiation in Bacteria

Enzymes. 2016;39:1-30. doi: 10.1016/bs.enz.2016.03.001. Epub 2016 Apr 20.


The initiation of chromosomal DNA replication starts at a replication origin, which in bacteria is a discrete locus that contains DNA sequence motifs recognized by an initiator protein whose role is to assemble the replication fork machinery at this site. In bacteria with a single chromosome, DnaA is the initiator and is highly conserved in all bacteria. As an adenine nucleotide binding protein, DnaA bound to ATP is active in the assembly of a DnaA oligomer onto these sites. Other proteins modulate DnaA oligomerization via their interaction with the N-terminal region of DnaA. Following the DnaA-dependent unwinding of an AT-rich region within the replication origin, DnaA then mediates the binding of DnaB, the replicative DNA helicase, in a complex with DnaC to form an intermediate named the prepriming complex. In the formation of this intermediate, the helicase is loaded onto the unwound region within the replication origin. As DnaC bound to DnaB inhibits its activity as a DNA helicase, DnaC must dissociate to activate DnaB. Apparently, the interaction of DnaB with primase (DnaG) and primer formation leads to the release of DnaC from DnaB, which is coordinated with or followed by translocation of DnaB to the junction of the replication fork. There, DnaB is able to coordinate its activity as a DNA helicase with the cellular replicase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme, which uses the primers made by primase for leading strand DNA synthesis.

Keywords: DNA replication; DnaA; DnaB; DnaC; Helicase loading; Initiation; Replication origin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism
  • DNA Replication*
  • Replication Origin*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA Helicases