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J Biol Chem. 2003 Dec 5;278(49):49053-62. Epub 2003 Sep 15.

Substrate requirements for duplex DNA translocation by the eukaryal and archaeal minichromosome maintenance helicases.

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University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, Rockville, Maryland 20850 USA.


Replicative DNA helicases are ring-shaped hexamers that play an essential role in DNA synthesis by separating the two strands of chromosomal DNA to provide the single-stranded (ss) substrate for replicative polymerases. Biochemical and structural studies suggest that these helicases translocate along one strand of the duplex, which passes through and interacts with the central channel of these ring-shaped hexamers, and displace the complementary strand. A number of these helicases were shown to also encircle both strands simultaneously and then translocate along double-stranded (ds)DNA. In this report it is shown that the Schizosaccharomyces pombe Mcm4,6,7 complex and archaeal minichromosome maintenance (MCM) helicase from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus move along duplex DNA. These two helicases, however, differ in the substrate required to support dsDNA translocation. Although the S. pombe Mcm4,6,7 complex required a 3'-overhang ssDNA region to initiate its association with the duplex, the archaeal protein initiated its transit along dsDNA in the absence of a 3'-overhang region, as well. Furthermore, DNA substrates containing a streptavidin-biotin steric block inhibited the movement of the eukaryotic helicase along ss and dsDNAs but not of the archaeal enzyme. The M. thermautotrophicus MCM helicase, however, was shown to displace a streptavidin-biotin complex from ss, as well as dsDNAs. The possible roles of dsDNA translocation by the MCM proteins during the initiation and elongation phases of chromosomal replication are discussed.

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