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Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Jan;23(1):200-12. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E11-05-0409. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

Analysis of model replication origins in Drosophila reveals new aspects of the chromatin landscape and its relationship to origin activity and the prereplicative complex.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


Epigenetic regulation exerts a major influence on origins of DNA replication during development. The mechanisms for this regulation, however, are poorly defined. We showed previously that acetylation of nucleosomes regulates the origins that mediate developmental gene amplification during Drosophila oogenesis. Here we show that developmental activation of these origins is associated with acetylation of multiple histone lysines. Although these modifications are not unique to origin loci, we find that the level of acetylation is higher at the active origins and quantitatively correlated with the number of times these origins initiate replication. All of these acetylation marks were developmentally dynamic, rapidly increasing with origin activation and rapidly declining when the origins shut off and neighboring promoters turn on. Fine-scale analysis of the origins revealed that both hyperacetylation of nucleosomes and binding of the origin recognition complex (ORC) occur in a broad domain and that acetylation is highest on nucleosomes adjacent to one side of the major site of replication initiation. It was surprising to find that acetylation of some lysines depends on binding of ORC to the origin, suggesting that multiple histone acetyltransferases may be recruited during origin licensing. Our results reveal new insights into the origin epigenetic landscape and lead us to propose a chromatin switch model to explain the coordination of origin and promoter activity during development.

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