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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jan 1977; 74(1): 193–197.
PMCID: PMC393224

A mechanism of duplex DNA replication revealed by enzymatic studies of phage phi X174: catalytic strand separation in advance of replication.


The enzyme system for duplicating the duplex, circular DNA of phage phi X174 (replicative form) in stage II of the replicative life cycle was shown to proceed in two steps: synthesis of the viral (+) strand ]stage II(+)], followed by synthesis of the complementary (-) strand ]stage II(-)] [Eisenberg et al. (1976) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 73, 3151-3155]. Novel features of the mechanism of the stage II(+) reaction have now been observed. The product, synthesized in extensive net quantities, is a covalently closed, circular, single-stranded DNA. The supercoiled replicative form I template and three of the four required proteins--the phage-induced cistron A protein (cis A), the host rep protein (rep), and the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme (holoenzyme)--act catalytically; the Escherichia coli DNA unwinding (or binding) protein binds the product stoichiometrically. In a reaction uncoupled from replication, cis A, rep, DNA binding protein, ATP, and Mg2+ separate the supercoiled replicative form I into its component single strands coated with DNA binding protein. In the presence of Mg2+, cis A, nicks the replicative form I; rep, ATP, and Mg2+ achieve strand separation with a concurrent cleavage of ATP and binding of DNA binding protein to the single strands. rep exhibits a single-stranded DNA-dependent ATPase activity. These observations suggest that the rep enzymatically melts the duplex at the replicating fork, using energy provided by ATP; this mechanism may apply to the replication of the E. coli chromosome as well.

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Selected References

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