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J Biol Chem. 1992 Feb 25;267(6):4030-44.

Coordinated leading- and lagging-strand synthesis at the Escherichia coli DNA replication fork. I. Multiple effectors act to modulate Okazaki fragment size.

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Program in Molecular Biology, Sloan-Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021.


The coordinated action of many enzymatic activities is required at the DNA replication fork to ensure the error-free, efficient, and simultaneous synthesis of the leading and lagging strands of DNA. In order to define the essential protein-protein interactions and model the regulatory pathways that control Okazaki fragment synthesis, we have reconstituted the replication fork of Escherichia coli in vitro in a rolling circle-type DNA replication system. In this system, in the presence of the single-stranded DNA binding protein, the helicase/primase function on the lagging-strand template is provided by the primosome, and the synthesis of DNA strands is catalyzed by the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme. These reconstituted replication forks synthesize equivalent amounts of leading- and lagging-strand DNA, move at rates comparable to those measured in vivo (600-800 nucleotides/s at 30 degrees C), and can synthesize leading strands in the range of 150-500 kilobases in length. Using this system, we have studied the cycle of Okazaki fragment synthesis at the replication fork. This cycle is likely to have several well defined decision points, steps in the cycle where incorrect execution by the enzymatic machinery will result in an alteration in the product of the reaction, i.e. in the size of the Okazaki fragments. Since identification of these decision points should aid in the determination of which of the enzymes acting at the replication fork control the cycle, we have endeavored to identify those reaction parameters that, when varied, alter the size of the Okazaki fragments synthesized. Here we demonstrate that some enzymes, such as the DnaB helicase, remain associated continuously with the fork while others, such as the primase, must be recruited from solution each time synthesis of an Okazaki fragment is initiated. We also show that variation of the concentration of the ribonucleoside triphosphates and the deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates affects Okazaki fragment size, that the control mechanisms acting at the fork to control Okazaki fragment size are not fixed at the time the fork is assembled but can be varied during the lifetime of the fork, and that alteration in the rate of the leading-strand DNA polymerase cannot account for the effect of the deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates.

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