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EMBO J. 1989 Mar;8(3):989-93.

In vivo studies of DnaA binding to the origin of replication of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111.


We have shown that DnaA, a protein required for initiation of DNA replication in Escherichia coli, binds to three of four DnaA binding sequences in the replicative origin oriC (boxes R1, R2 and R4). Protein-oriC DNA interactions in minichromosomes carried by wild-type and dnaA mutant strains were demonstrated by in vivo footprinting using dimethylsulfate treatment of intact cells. The same characteristic enhancement/protection pattern was seen in wild-type minichromosomes or mutants defective in oriC function but carrying the four DnaA boxes. Minichromosomes in dnaA (Ts) mutants showed no protein binding at non-permissive temperatures and reduced binding even at permissive temperatures. In vivo footprints of the wild-type strain were identical to those obtained in vitro using purified DnaA proteins and oriC DNA. Transcription into oriC affected the binding of DnaA protein to the DnaA boxes. These findings suggest that the protein causing the in vivo footprints at oriC is DnaA.

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