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Cell Cycle. 2010 Aug 15;9(16):3218-26. doi: 10.4161/cc.9.16.12644. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

Clusters, factories and domains: The complex structure of S-phase comes into focus.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland, UK.


During S-phase of the cell cycle, chromosomal DNA is replicated according to a complex replication timing program, with megabase-sized domains replicating at different times. DNA fibre analysis reveals that clusters of adjacent replication origins fire near-synchronously. Analysis of replicating cells by light microscopy shows that DNA synthesis occurs in discrete foci or factories. The relationship between timing domains, origin clusters and replication foci is currently unclear. Recent work, using a hybrid Xenopus/hamster replication system, has shown that when CDK levels are manipulated during S-phase the activation of replication factories can be uncoupled from progression through the replication timing program. Here, we use data from this hybrid system to investigate potential relationships between timing domains, origin clusters and replication foci. We suggest that each timing domain typically comprises several replicon clusters, which are usually processed sequentially by replication factories. We discuss how replication might be regulated at different levels to create this complex organisation and the potential involvement of CDKs in this process.

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