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Nucleic Acids Res. 1993 Nov 11;21(22):5025-33.

The structure of the initiation complex at the replication origin, oriC, of Escherichia coli.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany.


Two distinct regions in the replication origin, oriC, of Escherichia coli are separately distorted upon initiation complex formation by the initiator protein DnaA. The AT-rich region in the left part of oriC and the start site region in the right part of oriC. Chemical modification of single-stranded DNA was observed at both regions whereas endonuclease recognition of DNA mini-bulges specifically occurred in the start site region. We show that the helical phasing of binding sites for DnaA protein in oriC is important for origin function. An insertion or deletion of one helical turn between the two rightmost binding sites does not alter the efficiency of replication initiation, whereas all modifications of distance by less or more than one helical turn result in inactivation of oriC. DnaA binding and helical distortions in the AT-rich region as well as in the start site region are not affected in the distance mutants irrespective of their functionality in vivo. We propose a specific compact nucleoprotein structure for the initiation complex.

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