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Biochimie. 1996;78(11-12):1109-17.

Mechanisms of primer RNA synthesis and D-loop/R-loop-dependent DNA replication in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Molecular and Developmental Biology, University of Tokyo, Japan.


In DNA replication, DNA chains are generally initiated from small pieces of ribonucleotides attached to DNA templates. These 'primers' are synthesized by various enzymatic mechanisms in Escherichia coli. Studies on primer RNA synthesis on single-stranded DNA templates containing specific 'priming signals' revealed the presence of two distinct modes, ie immobile and mobile priming. The former includes primer RNA synthesis by primase encoded by dnaG and by RNA polymerase containing a sigma 70 subunit. Priming is initiated at a specific site in immobile priming. Novel immobile priming signals were identified from various plasmid replicons, some of which function in initiation of the leading strand synthesis. The latter, on the other hands involves a protein complex, primosome, which contains DnaB, the replicative helicase for E coli chromosomal replication. Utilizing the energy fueled by ATP hydrolysis of DnaB protein, primosomes are able to translocate on a template DNA and primase synthesizes primer RNAs at multiple sites. Two distinct primosomes, DnaA-dependent and PriA-dependent, have been identified, which are differentially utilized for E coli chromosomal replication. Whereas DnaA-dependent primosome supports normal chromosomal replication from oriC, the PriA-dependent primosome functions in oriC-independent chromosomal replication observed in DNA-damaged cells or cells lacking RNaseH activity. In oriC-independent replication, PriA protein may recognize the D- or R-loop structure, respectively, to initiate assembly of a primosome which mediates primer RNA synthesis and replication fork progression.

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