, Volume 121, Issue 5, pp 499–507

Visualization of the MCM DNA helicase at replication factories before the onset of DNA synthesis

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00412-012-0381-x

Cite this article as:
Aparicio, T., Megías, D. & Méndez, J. Chromosoma (2012) 121: 499. doi:10.1007/s00412-012-0381-x


In mammalian cells, DNA synthesis takes place at defined nuclear structures termed “replication foci” (RF) that follow the same order of activation in each cell cycle. Intriguingly, immunofluorescence studies have failed to visualize the DNA helicase minichromosome maintenance (MCM) at RF, raising doubts about its physical presence at the sites of DNA synthesis. We have revisited this paradox by pulse-labeling RF during the S phase and analyzing the localization of MCM at labeled DNA in the following cell cycle. Using high-throughput confocal microscopy, we provide direct evidence that MCM proteins concentrate in G1 at the chromosome structures bound to become RF in the S phase. Upon initiation of DNA synthesis, an active “MCM eviction” mechanism contributes to reduce the excess of DNA helicases at RF. Most MCM complexes are released from chromatin, except for a small but detectable fraction that remains at the forks during the S phase, as expected for a replicative helicase.









Minichromosome maintenance


Proliferating cell nuclear antigen


Replication foci

Supplementary material

412_2012_381_Fig6_ESM.jpg (109 kb)
Figure S1

Incorporation of EdU to DNA does not affect cell cycle progression. a Flow cytometric detection of EdU incorporation (y-axis) vs DNA content (x-axis) in HeLa cells previously labeled for 30 min with 10 μM EdU. Cells were processed and analyzed immediately (NC, no chase), or 2 h, 4 h, 16 h after the EdU pulse. b The experimental design is similar to that of part a, but cells were treated with Triton X100 to pre-extract soluble proteins prior to flow cytometry, and chromatin-bound PCNA, which is only present in S phase cells, was immunodetected (y-axis). EdU-positive cells, labeled in blue, can be seen in S phase immediately after the pulse (NC), in G2/M and G1 (8 h) and back in S phase (24 h). (JPEG 109 kb)

412_2012_381_MOESM1_ESM.tif (2.9 mb)
High-resolution image (TIFF 2931 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DNA Replication Group, Molecular Oncology ProgrammeSpanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Confocal Microscopy Unit, Biotechnology ProgrammeSpanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)MadridSpain
  3. 3.Institute for Cancer GeneticsColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA