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Bioessays. 1999 Oct;21(10):805-8.

Knot what we thought before: the twisted story of replication.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


DNA replication requires the unwinding of the parental duplex, which generates (+) supercoiling ahead of the replication fork. It has been thought that removal of these (+) supercoils was the only method of unlinking the parental strands. Recent evidence implies that supercoils can diffuse across the replication fork, resulting in interwound replicated strands called precatenanes. Topoisomerases can then act both in front of and behind the replication fork. A new study by Sogo et al. [J Mol Biol 1999;286:637-643 (Ref. 1)], using a topological analysis, provides the best evidence that precatenanes exist in negatively supercoiled, partially replicated molecules in vivo.

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