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Mol Cell. 2003 Dec;12(6):1499-510.

Branch migrating sister chromatid junctions form at replication origins through Rad51/Rad52-independent mechanisms.

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  • 1Istituto F.I.R.C. di Oncologia Molecolare, Via Adamello 16, Milano 20141, Italy.


Cells overcome intra-S DNA damage and replication impediments by coupling chromosome replication to sister chromatid-mediated recombination and replication-bypass processes. Further, molecular junctions between replicated molecules have been suggested to assist sister chromatid cohesion until anaphase. Using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, we have identified, in yeast cells, replication-dependent X-shaped molecules that appear during origin activation, branch migrate, and distribute along the replicon through a mechanism influenced by the rate of fork progression. Their formation is independent of Rad51- and Rad52-mediated homologous recombination events and is not affected by DNA damage or replication blocks. Further, in hydroxyurea-treated rad53 mutants, altered in the replication checkpoint, the branched molecules progressively degenerate and likely contribute to generate pathological structures. We suggest that cells couple sister chromatid tethering with replication initiation by generating specialized joint molecules resembling hemicatenanes: this process might prime cohesion and assist sister chromatid-mediated recombination and replication events.

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