Polymerase Exchange During Okazaki Fragment Synthesis Observed in Living Cells

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Science  22 Dec 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1210400

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DNA replication machineries have been studied extensively, but the kinetics of action of their components remains largely unknown. We report a study of DNA synthesis during replication in living Escherichia coli cells. Using single-molecule microscopy, we observed repetitive fluorescence bursts of single polymerase IIIs (Pol IIIs), indicating polymerase exchange at the replication fork. Fluctuations in the amount of DNA-bound single-stranded DNA-binding protein (SSB) reflect different speeds for the leading- and lagging-strand DNA polymerases. Coincidence analyses of Pol III and SSB fluctuations show that they correspond to the lagging-strand synthesis and suggest the use of a new Pol III for each Okazaki fragment. Based on exchanges involving two Pol IIIs, we propose that the third polymerase in the replisome is involved in lagging-strand synthesis.