Unwinding of the replication origin and loading of DNA helicases underlie the initiation of chromosomal replication. In Escherichia coli, the minimal origin oriC contains a duplex unwinding element (DUE) region and three (Left, Middle, and Right) regions that bind the initiator protein DnaA. The Left/Right regions bear a set of DnaA-binding sequences, constituting the Left/Right-DnaA subcomplexes, while the Middle region has a single DnaA-binding site, which stimulates formation of the Left/Right-DnaA subcomplexes. In addition, a DUE-flanking AT-cluster element (TATTAAAAAGAA) is located just outside of the minimal oriC region. The Left-DnaA subcomplex promotes unwinding of the flanking DUE exposing TT[A/G]T(T) sequences that then bind to the Left-DnaA subcomplex, stabilizing the unwound state required for DnaB helicase loading. However, the role of the Right-DnaA subcomplex is largely unclear. Here, we show that DUE unwinding by both the Left/Right-DnaA subcomplexes, but not the Left-DnaA subcomplex only, was stimulated by a DUE-terminal subregion flanking the AT-cluster. Consistently, we found the Right-DnaA subcomplex–bound single-stranded DUE and AT-cluster regions. In addition, the Left/Right-DnaA subcomplexes bound DnaB helicase independently. For only the Left-DnaA subcomplex, we show the AT-cluster was crucial for DnaB loading. The role of unwound DNA binding of the Right-DnaA subcomplex was further supported by in vivo data. Taken together, we propose a model in which the Right-DnaA subcomplex dynamically interacts with the unwound DUE, assisting in DUE unwinding and efficient loading of DnaB helicases, while in the absence of the Right-DnaA subcomplex, the AT-cluster assists in those processes, supporting robustness of replication initiation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology