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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jan 11;102(2):337-42. Epub 2004 Dec 28.

DNA replication origins in the Schizosaccharomyces pombe genome.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Origins of DNA replication in Schizosaccharomyces pombe lack a specific consensus sequence analogous to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae autonomously replicating sequence (ARS) consensus, raising the question of how they are recognized by the replication machinery. Because all well characterized S. pombe origins are located in intergenic regions, we analyzed the sequence properties and biological activity of such regions. The AT content of intergenes is very high ( approximately 70%), and runs of A's or T's occur with a significantly greater frequency than expected. Additionally, the two DNA strands in intergenes display compositional asymmetry that strongly correlates with the direction of transcription of flanking genes. Importantly, the sequence properties of known S. pombe origins of DNA replication are similar to those of intergenes in general. In functional studies, we assayed the in vivo origin activity of 26 intergenes in a 68-kb region of S. pombe chromosome 2. We also assayed the origin activity of sets of randomly chosen intergenes with the same length or AT content. Our data demonstrate that at least half of intergenes have potential origin activity and that the relative ability of an intergene to function as an origin is governed primarily by AT content and length. We propose a stochastic model for initiation of DNA replication in the fission yeast. In this model, the number of AT tracts in a given sequence is the major determinant of its probability of binding SpORC and serving as a replication origin. A similar model may explain some features of origins of DNA replication in metazoans.

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