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Evidence for a chromosome origin unwinding system broadly conserved in bacteria

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simone PelliciariORCiD, Professor Heath Murray



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.Genome replication is a fundamental requirement for the proliferation of all cells. Throughout the domains of life, conserved DNA replication initiation proteins assemble at specific chromosomal loci termed replication origins and direct loading of replicative helicases (1). Despite decades of study on bacterial replication, the diversity of bacterial chromosome origin architecture has confounded the search for molecular mechanisms directing the initiation process. Recently a basal system for opening a bacterial chromosome origin (oriC) was proposed (2). In the model organism Bacillus subtilis, a pair of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) binding sites (DnaA-boxes) guide the replication initiator DnaA onto adjacent single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding motifs (DnaA-Trios) where the protein assembles into an oligomer that stretches DNA to promote origin unwinding. We report here that these core elements are predicted to be present in the majority of bacterial chromosome origins. Moreover, we find that the principle activities of the origin unwinding system are conserved in vitro and in vivo. The results suggest that this basal mechanism for oriC unwinding is broadly functionally conserved and therefore may represent an ancestral system to open bacterial chromosome origins.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pelliciari S, Dong M-J, Gao F, Murray H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nucleic Acids Research

Year: 2021

Volume: 49

Issue: 13

Pages: 7525-7536

Print publication date: 21/07/2021

Online publication date: 01/07/2021

Acceptance date: 14/06/2021

Date deposited: 25/08/2021

ISSN (print): 0305-1048

ISSN (electronic): 1362-4962

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkab560

PubMed id: 34197592


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Funder referenceFunder name
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council [BB/P018432/1 to H.M.];
Funding for open access charge: Wellcome Trust.
National Key Research and Development Program of China [2018YFA0903700];
National Natural Science Foundation of China [31571358, 21621004 to F.G.].
Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship [204985/Z/16/Z];