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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Jul;40(12):5465-76. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks187. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Replication fork movement and methylation govern SeqA binding to the Escherichia coli chromosome.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital and University of Oslo, 0310 Oslo, Norway.


In Escherichia coli, the SeqA protein binds specifically to GATC sequences which are methylated on the A of the old strand but not on the new strand. Such hemimethylated DNA is produced by progression of the replication forks and lasts until Dam methyltransferase methylates the new strand. It is therefore believed that a region of hemimethylated DNA covered by SeqA follows the replication fork. We show that this is, indeed, the case by using global ChIP on Chip analysis of SeqA in cells synchronized regarding DNA replication. To assess hemimethylation, we developed the first genome-wide method for methylation analysis in bacteria. Since loss of the SeqA protein affects growth rate only during rapid growth when cells contain multiple replication forks, a comparison of rapid and slow growth was performed. In cells with six replication forks per chromosome, the two old forks were found to bind surprisingly little SeqA protein. Cell cycle analysis showed that loss of SeqA from the old forks did not occur at initiation of the new forks, but instead occurs at a time point coinciding with the end of SeqA-dependent origin sequestration. The finding suggests simultaneous origin de-sequestration and loss of SeqA from old replication forks.

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