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J Biol Chem. 2002 Sep 6;277(36):33049-57. Epub 2002 Jun 26.

MCM2-7 complexes bind chromatin in a distributed pattern surrounding the origin recognition complex in Xenopus egg extracts.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The MCM2-7 complex is believed to function as the eukaryotic replicative DNA helicase. It is recruited to chromatin by the origin recognition complex (ORC), Cdc6, and Cdt1, and it is activated at the G(1)/S transition by Cdc45 and the protein kinases Cdc7 and Cdk2. Paradoxically, the number of chromatin-bound MCM complexes greatly exceeds the number of bound ORC complexes. To understand how the high MCM2-7:ORC ratio comes about, we examined the binding of these proteins to immobilized linear DNA fragments in Xenopus egg extracts. The minimum length of DNA required to recruit ORC and MCM2-7 was approximately 80 bp, and the MCM2-7:ORC ratio on this fragment was approximately 1:1. With longer DNA fragments, the MCM2-7:ORC ratio increased dramatically, indicating that MCM complexes normally become distributed over a large region of DNA surrounding ORC. Only a small subset of the chromatin-bound MCM2-7 complexes recruited Cdc45 at the onset of DNA replication, and unlike Cdc45, MCM2-7 was not limiting for DNA replication. However, all the chromatin-bound MCM complexes may be functional, because they were phosphorylated in a Cdc7-dependent fashion, and because they could be induced to support Cdk2-dependent Cdc45 loading. The data suggest that in Xenopus egg extracts, origins of replication contain multiple, distributed, initiation-competent MCM2-7 complexes.

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