Mammalian DNA polymerase auxiliary proteins: analysis of replication factor C-catalyzed proliferating cell nuclear antigen loading onto circular double-stranded DNA.

Abstract:

To understand the mechanism of action of the two eukaryotic replication auxiliary proteins proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and replication factor C (RF-C), we constructed a plasmid for producing PCNA which could be 32P labelled in vitro. This allowed us to analyze the assembly of the auxiliary proteins directly on DNA and to examine this process in the absence of DNA synthesis. By using closed circular double-stranded DNA or gapped circular DNA for protein-DNA complex formation, the following results were obtained, (i) RF-C can load PCNA in an ATP-dependent manner directly on double-stranded DNA, and no 3'-OH ends are required for this reaction; (ii) the RF-C-PCNA complex assembled on closed circular DNA differs from those assembled on gapped or nicked circular DNA; (iii) the stable RF-C-PCNA complex can be assembled on circular but not on linear DNA; and (iv) only gapped DNA can partially retain the assembled RF-C-PCNA complex upon the linearization of the template. We propose that RF-C first binds unspecifically to double-stranded DNA in the presence of ATP and then loads PCNA onto DNA to yield a protein complex able to track along DNA. The RF-C-PCNA complex could slide along the template until it encounters a 3'-OH primer-template junction, where it is likely transformed into a competent clamp. The latter complex, finally, might still be able to slide along double-stranded DNA.

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