Special Reviews

Making Sense of Eukaryotic DNA Replication Origins

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Science  05 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5540, pp. 96-100
DOI: 10.1126/science.1061724

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DNA replication is the process by which cells make one complete copy of their genetic information before cell division. In bacteria, readily identifiable DNA sequences constitute the start sites or origins of DNA replication. In eukaryotes, replication origins have been difficult to identify. In some systems, any DNA sequence can promote replication, but other systems require specific DNA sequences. Despite these disparities, the proteins that regulate replication are highly conserved from yeast to humans. The resolution may lie in a current model for once-per-cell-cycle regulation of eukaryotic replication that does not require defined origin sequences. This model implies that the specification of precise origins is a response to selective pressures that transcend those of once-per-cell-cycle replication, such as the coordination of replication with other chromosomal functions. Viewed in this context, the locations of origins may be an integral part of the functional organization of eukaryotic chromosomes.

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