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EMBO J. 2004 Feb 25;23(4):897-907. Epub 2004 Feb 5.

DNA topology, not DNA sequence, is a critical determinant for Drosophila ORC-DNA binding.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3204, USA.


Drosophila origin recognition complex (ORC) localizes to defined positions on chromosomes, and in follicle cells the chorion gene amplification loci are well-studied examples. However, the mechanism of specific localization is not known. We have studied the DNA binding of DmORC to investigate the cis-requirements for DmORC:DNA interaction. DmORC displays at best six-fold differences in the relative affinities to DNA from the third chorion locus and to random fragments in vitro, and chemical probing and DNase1 protection experiments did not identify a discrete binding site for DmORC on any of these fragments. The intrinsic DNA-binding specificity of DmORC is therefore insufficient to target DmORC to origins of replication in vivo. However, the topological state of the DNA significantly influences the affinity of DmORC to DNA. We found that the affinity of DmORC for negatively supercoiled DNA is about 30-fold higher than for either relaxed or linear DNA. These data provide biochemical evidence for the notion that origin specification in metazoa likely involves mechanisms other than simple replicator-initiator interactions and that in vivo other proteins must determine ORC's localization.

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