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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2014 Aug;21(8):664-70. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2851. Epub 2014 Jul 6.

Mechanism of asymmetric polymerase assembly at the eukaryotic replication fork.

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  • DNA Replication Laboratory, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA.


Eukaryotes use distinct polymerases for leading- and lagging-strand replication, but how they target their respective strands is uncertain. We reconstituted Saccharomyces cerevisiae replication forks and found that CMG helicase selects polymerase (Pol) ɛ to the exclusion of Pol δ on the leading strand. Even if Pol δ assembles on the leading strand, Pol ɛ rapidly replaces it. Pol δ-PCNA is distributive with CMG, in contrast to its high stability on primed ssDNA. Hence CMG will not stabilize Pol δ, instead leaving the leading strand accessible for Pol ɛ and stabilizing Pol ɛ. Comparison of Pol ɛ and Pol δ on a lagging-strand model DNA reveals the opposite. Pol δ dominates over excess Pol ɛ on PCNA-primed ssDNA. Thus, PCNA strongly favors Pol δ over Pol ɛ on the lagging strand, but CMG over-rides and flips this balance in favor of Pol ɛ on the leading strand.

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