, Volume 263, Issue 5, pp 854-866

Structure-function relationships in replication origins of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae: higher-order structural organization of DNA in regions flanking the ARS consensus sequence

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In order to better understand the involvement of the DNA molecule in the replication initiation process we have characterized the structure of the DNA at Autonomously Replicating Sequences (ARSs) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Using a new method for anti-bent DNA analysis, which allowed us to take into account the bending contribution of each successive base plate, we have investigated the higher-order structural organization of the DNA in the region which immediately surrounds the ARS consensus sequence (ACS). We have identified left- and right-handed anti-bent DNAs which flank this consensus sequence. The data show that this organization correlates with an active ACS. Analysis of the minimum nucleotide sequence providing ARS function to plasmids reveals an example where the critical nucleotides are restricted to the ACS and the right-handed anti-bent DNA domain, although most of the origins considered contained both left- and right-handed anti-bent DNAs. Moreover, mutational analysis shows that the right-handed form is necessary in order to sustain a specific DNA conformation which is correlated with the level of plasmid maintenance. A model for the role of these individual structural components of the yeast replication origin is presented. We discuss the possible role of the right-handed anti-bent DNA domain, in conjunction with the ACS, in the process of replication initiation, and potentialities offered by the combination of left- and right-handed structural components in origin function.

Received: 29 October 1999 / Accepted: 14 March 2000