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1.  Modeling genome-wide replication kinetics reveals a mechanism for regulation of replication timing 
We developed analytical models of DNA replication that include probabilistic initiation of origins, fork progression, passive replication, and asynchrony.We fit the model to budding yeast genome-wide microarray data probing the replication fraction and found that initiation times correlate with the precision of timing.We extracted intrinsic origin properties, such as potential origin efficiency and firing-time distribution, which cannot be done using phenomenological approaches.We propose that origin timing is controlled by stochastically activated initiators bound to origin sites rather than explicit time-measuring mechanisms.
The kinetics of DNA replication must be controlled for cells to develop properly. Although the biochemical mechanisms of origin initiations are increasingly well understood, the organization of initiation timing as a genome-wide program is still a mystery. With the advance of technology, researchers have been able to generate large amounts of data revealing aspects of replication kinetics. In particular, the use of microarrays to probe the replication fraction of budding yeast genome wide has been a successful first step towards unraveling the details of the replication program (Raghuraman et al, 2001; Alvino et al, 2007; McCune et al, 2008). On the surface, the microarray data shows apparent patterns of early and late replicating regions and seems to support the prevailing picture of eukaryotic replication—origins are positioned at defined sites and initiated at defined, preprogrammed times (Donaldson, 2005). Molecular combing, a single-molecule technique, however, showed that the initiation of origins is stochastic (Czajkowsky et al, 2008). Motivated by these conflicting viewpoints, we developed a model that is flexible enough to describe both deterministic and stochastic initiation.
We modeled origin initiation as probabilistic events. We first propose a model where each origin is allowed to have its distinct ‘firing-time distribution.' Origins that have well-determined initiation times have narrow distributions, whereas more stochastic origins have wider distributions. Similar models based on simulations have previously been proposed (Lygeros et al, 2008; Blow and Ge, 2009; de Moura et al, 2010); however, our model is novel in that it is analytic. It is much faster than simulations and allowed us, for the first time, to fit genome-wide microarray data and extract parameters that describe the replication program in unprecedented detail (Figure 2).
Our main result is this: origins that fire early, on average, have precisely defined initiation times, whereas origins that fire late, on average, do not have a well-defined initiation time and initiate throughout S phase. What kind of global controlling mechanism can account for this trend? We propose a second model where an origin is composed of multiple initiators, each of which fires independently and identically. A good candidate for the initiator is the minichromosome maintenance (MCM) complex, as it is found to be associated with origin firing and loaded in abundance (Hyrien et al, 2003). We show that the aforementioned relationship can be explained quantitatively if the earlier-firing origins have more MCM complexes. This model offers a new view of replication: controlled origin timing can emerge from stochastic firing and does not need an explicit time-measuring mechanism, a ‘clock.' This model provides a new, detailed, plausible, and testable mechanism for replication timing control.
Our models also capture the effects of passive replication, which is often neglected in phenomenological approaches (Eshaghi et al, 2007). There are two ways an origin site can be replicated. The site can be replicated by the origin binding to it but can also be passively replicated by neighboring origins. This complication makes it difficult to extract the intrinsic properties of origins. By modeling passive replication, we can separate the contribution from each origin and extract the potential efficiency of origins, i.e., the efficiency of the origin given that there is no passive replication. We found that while most origins are potentially highly efficient, their observed efficiency varies greatly. This implies that many origins, though capable of initiating, are often passively replicated and appear dormant. Such a design makes the replication process robust against replication stress such as fork stalling (Blow and Ge, 2009). If two approaching forks stall, normally dormant origins in the region, not being passively replicated, will initiate to replicate the gap.
With the advance of the microarray and molecular-combing technology, experiments have been done to probe many different types of cells, and large amounts of replication fraction data have been generated. Our model can be applied to spatiotemporally resolved replication fraction data for any organism, as the model is flexible enough to capture a wide range of replication kinetics. The analytical model is also much faster than simulation-based models. For these reasons, we believe that the model is a powerful tool for analyzing these large datasets. This work opens the possibility for understanding the replication program across species in more rigor and detail (Goldar et al, 2009).
Microarrays are powerful tools to probe genome-wide replication kinetics. The rich data sets that result contain more information than has been extracted by current methods of analysis. In this paper, we present an analytical model that incorporates probabilistic initiation of origins and passive replication. Using the model, we performed least-squares fits to a set of recently published time course microarray data on Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We extracted the distribution of firing times for each origin and found that the later an origin fires on average, the greater the variation in firing times. To explain this trend, we propose a model where earlier-firing origins have more initiator complexes loaded and a more accessible chromatin environment. The model demonstrates how initiation can be stochastic and yet occur at defined times during S phase, without an explicit timing program. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the initiators in this model correspond to loaded minichromosome maintenance complexes. This model is the first to suggest a detailed, testable, biochemically plausible mechanism for the regulation of replication timing in eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2950085  PMID: 20739926
DNA replication program; genome-wide analysis; microarray data; replication-origin efficiency; stochastic modeling
2.  GINS motion reveals replication fork progression is remarkably uniform throughout the yeast genome 
Time-resolved ChIP-chip can be utilized to monitor the genome-wide dynamics of the GINS complex, yielding quantitative information on replication fork movement.Replication forks progress at remarkably uniform rates across the genome, regardless of location.GINS progression appears to be arrested, albeit with very low frequency, at sites of highly transcribed genes.Comparison of simulation with data leads to novel biological insights regarding the dynamics of replication fork progression
In mitotic division, cells duplicate their DNA in S phase to ensure that the proper genetic material is passed on to their progeny. This process of DNA replication is initiated from several hundred specific sites, termed origins of replication, spaced across the genome. It is essential for replication to begin only after G1 and finish before the initiation of anaphase (Blow and Dutta, 2005; Machida et al, 2005). To ensure proper timing, the beginning stages of DNA replication are tightly coupled to the cell cycle through the activity of cyclin-dependent kinases (Nguyen et al, 2001; Masumoto et al, 2002; Sclafani and Holzen, 2007), which promote the accumulation of the pre-RC at the origins and initiate replication. Replication fork movement occurs subsequent to the firing of origins on recruitment of the replicative helicase and the other fork-associated proteins as the cell enters S phase (Diffley, 2004). The replication machinery itself (polymerases, PCNA, etc.) trails behind the helicase, copying the newly unwound DNA in the wake of the replication fork.
One component of the pre-RC, the GINS complex, consists of a highly conserved set of paralogous proteins (Psf1, Psf2, Psf3 and Sld5 (Kanemaki et al, 2003; Kubota et al, 2003; Takayama et al, 2003)). Previous work suggests that the GINS complex is an integral component of the replication fork and that its interaction with the genome correlates directly to the movement of the fork (reviewed in Labib and Gambus, 2007). Here, we used the GINS complex as a surrogate to measure features of the dynamics of replication—that is, to determine which origins in the genome are active, the timing of their firing and the rates of replication fork progression.
The timing of origin firing and the rates of fork progression have also been investigated by monitoring nascent DNA synthesis (Raghuraman et al, 2001; Yabuki et al, 2002). Origin firing was observed to occur as early as 14 min into the cell cycle and as late as 44 min (Raghuraman et al, 2001). A wide range of nucleotide incorporation rates (0.5–11 kb/min) were observed, with a mean of 2.9 kb/min (Raghuraman et al, 2001), whereas a second study reported a comparable mean rate of DNA duplication of 2.8±1.0 kb/min (Yabuki et al, 2002). In addition to these observations, replication has been inferred to progress asymmetrically from certain origins (Raghuraman et al, 2001). These data have been interpreted to mean that the dynamics of replication fork progression are strongly affected by local chromatin structure or architecture, and perhaps by interaction with the machineries controlling transcription, repair and epigenetic maintenance (Deshpande and Newlon, 1996; Rothstein et al, 2000; Raghuraman et al, 2001; Ivessa et al, 2003). In this study, we adopted a complementary ChIP-chip approach for assaying replication dynamics, in which we followed GINS complexes as they traverse the genome during the cell cycle (Figure 1). These data reveal that GINS binds to active replication origins and spreads bi-directionally and symmetrically as S phase progresses (Figure 3). The majority of origins appear to fire in the first ∼15 min of S phase. A small fraction (∼10%) of the origins to which GINS binds show no evidence of spreading (category 3 origins), although it remains possible that these peaks represent passively fired origins (Shirahige et al, 1998). Once an active origin fires, the GINS complex moves at an almost constant rate of 1.6±0.3 kb/min. Its movement through the inter-origin regions is consistent with that of a protein complex associated with a smoothly moving replication fork. This progression rate is considerably lower and more tightly distributed than those inferred from previous genome-wide measurements assayed through nascent DNA production (Raghuraman et al, 2001; Yabuki et al, 2002). Our study leads us to a different view of replication fork dynamics wherein fork progression is highly uniform in rate and little affected by genomic location.
In this work, we also observe a large number of low-intensity persistent features at sites of high transcriptional activity (e.g. tRNA genes). We were able to accurately simulate these features by assuming they are the result of low probability arrest of replication forks at these sites, rather than fork pausing (Deshpande and Newlon, 1996). The extremely low frequency of these events in wild-type cells suggests they are due to low probability stochastic occurrences during the replication process. It is hoped that future studies will resolve whether these persistent features indeed represent rare instances of fork arrest, or are the result of some alternative process. These may include, for example, the deposition of GINS complexes (or perhaps more specifically Psf2) once a pause has been resolved.
In this work, we have made extensive use of modeling to test a number of different hypotheses and assumptions. In particular, iterative modeling allowed us to infer that GINS progression is uniform and smooth throughout the genome. We have also demonstrated the potential of simulations for estimating firing efficiencies. In the future, extending such firing efficiency simulations to the whole genome should allow us to make correlations with chromosomal features such as nucleosome occupancy. Such correlations may help in determining factors that govern the probability of replication initiation throughout the genome.
Previous studies have led to a picture wherein the replication of DNA progresses at variable rates over different parts of the budding yeast genome. These prior experiments, focused on production of nascent DNA, have been interpreted to imply that the dynamics of replication fork progression are strongly affected by local chromatin structure/architecture, and by interaction with machineries controlling transcription, repair and epigenetic maintenance. Here, we adopted a complementary approach for assaying replication dynamics using whole genome time-resolved chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with microarray analysis of the GINS complex, an integral member of the replication fork. Surprisingly, our data show that this complex progresses at highly uniform rates regardless of genomic location, revealing that replication fork dynamics in yeast is simpler and more uniform than previously envisaged. In addition, we show how the synergistic use of experiment and modeling leads to novel biological insights. In particular, a parsimonious model allowed us to accurately simulate fork movement throughout the genome and also revealed a subtle phenomenon, which we interpret as arising from low-frequency fork arrest.
PMCID: PMC2858444  PMID: 20212525
cell cycle; ChIP-chip; DNA replication; replication fork; simulation
3.  A Link between ORC-Origin Binding Mechanisms and Origin Activation Time Revealed in Budding Yeast 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(9):e1003798.
Eukaryotic DNA replication origins are selected in G1-phase when the origin recognition complex (ORC) binds chromosomal positions and triggers molecular events culminating in the initiation of DNA replication (a.k.a. origin firing) during S-phase. Each chromosome uses multiple origins for its duplication, and each origin fires at a characteristic time during S-phase, creating a cell-type specific genome replication pattern relevant to differentiation and genome stability. It is unclear whether ORC-origin interactions are relevant to origin activation time. We applied a novel genome-wide strategy to classify origins in the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae based on the types of molecular interactions used for ORC-origin binding. Specifically, origins were classified as DNA-dependent when the strength of ORC-origin binding in vivo could be explained by the affinity of ORC for origin DNA in vitro, and, conversely, as ‘chromatin-dependent’ when the ORC-DNA interaction in vitro was insufficient to explain the strength of ORC-origin binding in vivo. These two origin classes differed in terms of nucleosome architecture and dependence on origin-flanking sequences in plasmid replication assays, consistent with local features of chromatin promoting ORC binding at ‘chromatin-dependent’ origins. Finally, the ‘chromatin-dependent’ class was enriched for origins that fire early in S-phase, while the DNA-dependent class was enriched for later firing origins. Conversely, the latest firing origins showed a positive association with the ORC-origin DNA paradigm for normal levels of ORC binding, whereas the earliest firing origins did not. These data reveal a novel association between ORC-origin binding mechanisms and the regulation of origin activation time.
Author Summary
Cell division requires the duplication of chromosomes, protein-DNA complexes harboring genetic information. Specific chromosomal positions, origins, initiate this duplication. Multiple origins are required for accurate, efficient duplication—an insufficient number leads to mistakes in the genetic material and pathologies such as cancer. Origins are chosen when the origin recognition complex (ORC) binds to them. The molecular interactions controlling this binding remain unclear. Understanding these interactions will lead to new ways to control cell division, which could aid in treatments of disease. Experiments were performed in the eukaryotic microbe budding yeast to define the types of molecular interactions ORC uses to bind origins. Yeasts are useful for these studies because chromosome duplication and structure are well conserved from yeast to humans. While ORC-DNA interactions were important, interactions between ORC and chromosomal proteins played a role. In addition, different origins relied on different types of molecular interactions with ORC. Finally, ORC-protein interactions but not ORC-DNA interactions were associated with enhanced origin function during chromosome-duplication, revealing an unanticipated link between the types of molecular interactions ORC uses to select an origin and the ultimate function of that origin. These results have implications for interfering with ORC-origin interactions to control cell division.
PMCID: PMC3772097  PMID: 24068963
4.  Diversity of Eukaryotic DNA Replication Origins Revealed by Genome-Wide Analysis of Chromatin Structure 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(9):e1001092.
Eukaryotic DNA replication origins differ both in their efficiency and in the characteristic time during S phase when they become active. The biological basis for these differences remains unknown, but they could be a consequence of chromatin structure. The availability of genome-wide maps of nucleosome positions has led to an explosion of information about how nucleosomes are assembled at transcription start sites, but no similar maps exist for DNA replication origins. Here we combine high-resolution genome-wide nucleosome maps with comprehensive annotations of DNA replication origins to identify patterns of nucleosome occupancy at eukaryotic replication origins. On average, replication origins contain a nucleosome depleted region centered next to the ACS element, flanked on both sides by arrays of well-positioned nucleosomes. Our analysis identified DNA sequence properties that correlate with nucleosome occupancy at replication origins genome-wide and that are correlated with the nucleosome-depleted region. Clustering analysis of all annotated replication origins revealed a surprising diversity of nucleosome occupancy patterns. We provide evidence that the origin recognition complex, which binds to the origin, acts as a barrier element to position and phase nucleosomes on both sides of the origin. Finally, analysis of chromatin reconstituted in vitro reveals that origins are inherently nucleosome depleted. Together our data provide a comprehensive, genome-wide view of chromatin structure at replication origins and suggest a model of nucleosome positioning at replication origins in which the underlying sequence occludes nucleosomes to permit binding of the origin recognition complex, which then (likely in concert with nucleosome modifiers and remodelers) positions nucleosomes adjacent to the origin to promote replication origin function.
Author Summary
Eukaryotic DNA replication begins at specific sites in the genome called replication origins, which are bound by the proteins that comprise the origin recognition complex (ORC). In budding yeast, there are more replication origins available than are used in any particular cell division cycle. Each origin has a characteristic time during the cell division cycle when the DNA replication machinery is assembled at a particular origin and begins to replicate DNA. Previous studies have indicated that differences in replication timing and origin use/availability may be a consequence of the chromatin structure surrounding an origin. Here we present a genome-wide analysis of nucleosome architecture of replication origins aligned by their ORC-binding site. We find that origins can be built with a variety of nucleosome occupancy patterns, and that these patterns are influenced by adjacent genomic features. Finally, we determined the genome-wide consequences of ORC depletion on nucleosome architecture at origins. ORC depletion allowed encroachment of flanking nucleosomes towards the origin and changed the nucleosome phasing, indicating that ORC acts as a barrier to position and phase nucleosomes. Our analysis provides a comprehensive, genome-wide view of replication origins that reveals a previously unappreciated diversity in origin structure.
PMCID: PMC2932696  PMID: 20824081
5.  The Origin Recognition Complex Interacts with a Subset of Metabolic Genes Tightly Linked to Origins of Replication 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(12):e1000755.
The origin recognition complex (ORC) marks chromosomal sites as replication origins and is essential for replication initiation. In yeast, ORC also binds to DNA elements called silencers, where its primary function is to recruit silent information regulator (SIR) proteins to establish transcriptional silencing. Indeed, silencers function poorly as chromosomal origins. Several genetic, molecular, and biochemical studies of HMR-E have led to a model proposing that when ORC becomes limiting in the cell (such as in the orc2-1 mutant) only sites that bind ORC tightly (such as HMR-E) remain fully occupied by ORC, while lower affinity sites, including many origins, lose ORC occupancy. Since HMR-E possessed a unique non-replication function, we reasoned that other tight sites might reveal novel functions for ORC on chromosomes. Therefore, we comprehensively determined ORC “affinity” genome-wide by performing an ORC ChIP–on–chip in ORC2 and orc2-1 strains. Here we describe a novel group of orc2-1–resistant ORC–interacting chromosomal sites (ORF–ORC sites) that did not function as replication origins or silencers. Instead, ORF–ORC sites were comprised of protein-coding regions of highly transcribed metabolic genes. In contrast to the ORC–silencer paradigm, transcriptional activation promoted ORC association with these genes. Remarkably, ORF–ORC genes were enriched in proximity to origins of replication and, in several instances, were transcriptionally regulated by these origins. Taken together, these results suggest a surprising connection among ORC, replication origins, and cellular metabolism.
Author Summary
Chromosomes must be replicated prior to cell division. The process of duplication of each eukaryotic chromosome starts at discrete sites called origins of replication. An evolutionarily conserved Origin Recognition Complex (ORC) binds origins and helps make them replication-competent. ORC also binds another class of chromosomal sites that primarily function not as origins but as “silencers.” Silencers serve as starting points for the formation of silent chromatin, a special structure that represses local gene transcription in a promoter-independent fashion. One yeast silencer studied in great detail was found to bind ORC in vitro and in vivo with high affinity (“tightly”). On the other hand, several replication origins were found to bind ORC with lower affinity (“loosely”). We performed a genome-wide comparison of ORC affinity and found a novel class of high-affinity ORC–binding sites. Surprisingly, this class consisted neither of origins nor of silencers but of highly expressed genes involved in various metabolic processes. Transcriptional activation helped target ORC to these sites. These genes were frequently found near origins of replication, and in several instances their transcription was affected by deletion of the nearby origin. These results may shed light on a new molecular mechanism connecting nutrient status and cell division.
PMCID: PMC2778871  PMID: 19997491
6.  Functional Centromeres Determine the Activation Time of Pericentric Origins of DNA Replication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002677.
The centromeric regions of all Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosomes are found in early replicating domains, a property conserved among centromeres in fungi and some higher eukaryotes. Surprisingly, little is known about the biological significance or the mechanism of early centromere replication; however, the extensive conservation suggests that it is important for chromosome maintenance. Do centromeres ensure their early replication by promoting early activation of nearby origins, or have they migrated over evolutionary time to reside in early replicating regions? In Candida albicans, a neocentromere contains an early firing origin, supporting the first hypothesis but not addressing whether the new origin is intrinsically early firing or whether the centromere influences replication time. Because the activation time of individual origins is not an intrinsic property of S. cerevisiae origins, but is influenced by surrounding sequences, we sought to test the hypothesis that centromeres influence replication time by moving a centromere to a late replication domain. We used a modified Meselson-Stahl density transfer assay to measure the kinetics of replication for regions of chromosome XIV in which either the functional centromere or a point-mutated version had been moved near origins that reside in a late replication region. We show that a functional centromere acts in cis over a distance as great as 19 kb to advance the initiation time of origins. Our results constitute a direct link between establishment of the kinetochore and the replication initiation machinery, and suggest that the proposed higher-order structure of the pericentric chromatin influences replication initiation.
Author Summary
Genome duplication requires the orderly initiation of DNA synthesis at sites called origins of replication. It has long been known that different origins become active at different times in S-phase (the period during which cells duplicate their chromosomes). Although such temporal regulation of replication is broadly conserved among eukaryotes, how this regional control of replication time occurs largely remains a mystery. The early replication of baker's yeast centromeres (genetic elements essential for proper segregation of chromosomes during cell division) is one frequently cited example of temporal regulation, yet the biological significance of early centromere replication also remains speculative. Increasing evidence suggests that early centromere replication is a conserved feature of the DNA replication program across many species. Here, we show that centromeres in this yeast can advance the time at which origins in their genomic neighborhood initiate DNA replication. The distance over which centromeres can influence origin activation time extends up to 19 kilobases. We further show that centromere-mediated early origin activation depends on the centromere's ability to recruit at least a subset of the proteins needed for chromosome segregation. This study thus provides the first direct functional link between kinetochore establishment and the mechanisms of DNA replication initiation.
PMCID: PMC3349730  PMID: 22589733
7.  Preferential Re-Replication of Drosophila Heterochromatin in the Absence of Geminin 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(9):e1001112.
To ensure genomic integrity, the genome must be duplicated exactly once per cell cycle. Disruption of replication licensing mechanisms may lead to re-replication and genomic instability. Cdt1, also known as Double-parked (Dup) in Drosophila, is a key regulator of the assembly of the pre-replicative complex (pre-RC) and its activity is strictly limited to G1 by multiple mechanisms including Cul4-Ddb1 mediated proteolysis and inhibition by geminin. We assayed the genomic consequences of disregulating the replication licensing mechanisms by RNAi depletion of geminin. We found that not all origins of replication were sensitive to geminin depletion and that heterochromatic sequences were preferentially re-replicated in the absence of licensing mechanisms. The preferential re-activation of heterochromatic origins of replication was unexpected because these are typically the last sequences to be duplicated in a normal cell cycle. We found that the re-replication of heterochromatin was regulated not at the level of pre-RC activation, but rather by the formation of the pre-RC. Unlike the global assembly of the pre-RC that occurs throughout the genome in G1, in the absence of geminin, limited pre-RC assembly was restricted to the heterochromatin by elevated cyclin A-CDK activity. These results suggest that there are chromatin and cell cycle specific controls that regulate the re-assembly of the pre-RC outside of G1.
Author Summary
Catastrophic consequences may occur if the cell fails to either completely copy the genome or if it duplicates some regions of the genome more than once in a cell cycle. The cell must coordinate thousands of DNA replication start sites (origins) to ensure that the entire genome is copied and that no replication origin is activated more than once in a cell cycle. The cell accomplishes this coordination by confining the selection and activation of replication origins to discrete phases of the cell cycle. Start sites can only be selected or ‘licensed’ for DNA replication in G1 and similarly, they can only be activated for the initiation of DNA replication in S phase. Disruption of the mechanisms that regulate this ‘licensing’ process have been shown to result in extensive re-replication, genomic instability and tumorigenesis in a variety of eukaryotic systems. Here we use genomic approaches in Drosophila to identify which origins of replication are susceptible to re-initiation of DNA replication in the absence of replication licensing controls. Unexpectedly, we find that sequences in the heterochromatin, which were thought to contain only inefficient origins of replication, are preferentially re-replicated. These results provide insights into how origins of replication are selected and regulated in distinct chromatin environments to maintain genomic stability.
PMCID: PMC2936543  PMID: 20838463
8.  A Comprehensive Genome-Wide Map of Autonomously Replicating Sequences in a Naive Genome 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(5):e1000946.
Eukaryotic chromosomes initiate DNA synthesis from multiple replication origins. The machinery that initiates DNA synthesis is highly conserved, but the sites where the replication initiation proteins bind have diverged significantly. Functional comparative genomics is an obvious approach to study the evolution of replication origins. However, to date, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae replication origin map is the only genome map available. Using an iterative approach that combines computational prediction and functional validation, we have generated a high-resolution genome-wide map of DNA replication origins in Kluyveromyces lactis. Unlike other yeasts or metazoans, K. lactis autonomously replicating sequences (KlARSs) contain a 50 bp consensus motif suggestive of a dimeric structure. This motif is necessary and largely sufficient for initiation and was used to dependably identify 145 of the up to 156 non-repetitive intergenic ARSs projected for the K. lactis genome. Though similar in genome sizes, K. lactis has half as many ARSs as its distant relative S. cerevisiae. Comparative genomic analysis shows that ARSs in K. lactis and S. cerevisiae preferentially localize to non-syntenic intergenic regions, linking ARSs with loci of accelerated evolutionary change.
Author Summary
DNA replication is an evolutionarily conserved, cell cycle–regulated, spatially and temporally coordinated mechanism in eukaryotes. It is initiated by the binding of the Origin Recognition Complex (ORC) to multiple replication origins. While the ORC is highly conserved, its DNA binding specificity and the primary sequences of replication origins are not. Comparative functional genomics is an obvious approach to addressing questions about the positional conservation and chromosomal determinants of replication origins. However, to date, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the only eukaryote with a complete genome-wide replication origin map, one which took three decades to compile. We have devised an iterative approach, combining computational prediction and functional validation by direct cloning of replication origins that efficiently identifies a high resolution, near complete repertoire of replication origins in Kluyveromyces lactis. Comparing these two yeast genome maps provides a wealth of information about the DNA elements and positional conservation of replication origins in these two distantly related yeast species. This approach is generally applicable to the construction of high-resolution genome maps of evolutionarily conserved sequences associated with assayable biological functions. Rapid generation of comprehensive functional maps of uncharacterized genomes is critical to whole genome studies of all biological functions.
PMCID: PMC2869322  PMID: 20485513
9.  Evidence for Sequential and Increasing Activation of Replication Origins along Replication Timing Gradients in the Human Genome 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(12):e1002322.
Genome-wide replication timing studies have suggested that mammalian chromosomes consist of megabase-scale domains of coordinated origin firing separated by large originless transition regions. Here, we report a quantitative genome-wide analysis of DNA replication kinetics in several human cell types that contradicts this view. DNA combing in HeLa cells sorted into four temporal compartments of S phase shows that replication origins are spaced at 40 kb intervals and fire as small clusters whose synchrony increases during S phase and that replication fork velocity (mean 0.7 kb/min, maximum 2.0 kb/min) remains constant and narrowly distributed through S phase. However, multi-scale analysis of a genome-wide replication timing profile shows a broad distribution of replication timing gradients with practically no regions larger than 100 kb replicating at less than 2 kb/min. Therefore, HeLa cells lack large regions of unidirectional fork progression. Temporal transition regions are replicated by sequential activation of origins at a rate that increases during S phase and replication timing gradients are set by the delay and the spacing between successive origin firings rather than by the velocity of single forks. Activation of internal origins in a specific temporal transition region is directly demonstrated by DNA combing of the IGH locus in HeLa cells. Analysis of published origin maps in HeLa cells and published replication timing and DNA combing data in several other cell types corroborate these findings, with the interesting exception of embryonic stem cells where regions of unidirectional fork progression seem more abundant. These results can be explained if origins fire independently of each other but under the control of long-range chromatin structure, or if replication forks progressing from early origins stimulate initiation in nearby unreplicated DNA. These findings shed a new light on the replication timing program of mammalian genomes and provide a general model for their replication kinetics.
Author Summary
Eukaryotic chromosomes replicate from multiple replication origins that fire at different times in S phase. The mechanisms that specify origin position and firing time and coordinate origins to ensure complete genome duplication are unclear. Previous studies proposed either that origins are arranged in temporally coordinated groups or fire independently of each other in a stochastic manner. Here, we have performed a quantitative analysis of human genome replication kinetics using a combination of DNA combing, which reveals local patterns of origin firing and replication fork progression on single DNA molecules, and massive sequencing of newly replicated DNA, which reveals the population-averaged replication timing profile of the entire genome. We show that origins are activated synchronously in large regions of uniform replication timing but more gradually in temporal transition regions and that the rate of origin firing increases as replication progresses. Large regions of unidirectional fork progression are abundant in embryonic stem cells but rare in differentiated cells. We propose a model in which replication forks progressing from early origins stimulate initiation in nearby unreplicated DNA in a manner that explains the shape of the replication timing profile. These results provide a fundamental insight into the temporal regulation of mammalian genome replication.
PMCID: PMC3248390  PMID: 22219720
10.  Genomic Study of Replication Initiation in Human Chromosomes Reveals the Influence of Transcription Regulation and Chromatin Structure on Origin Selection 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(3):393-404.
DNA replication in metazoans initiates from multiple chromosomal loci called origins. This study identifies 150 new origins of replication that were confirmed by two methods of nascent strand purification. We discern the role of transcription initiation and regulation, as well as chromatin signatures in determining origin selection in human genome.
DNA replication in metazoans initiates from multiple chromosomal loci called origins. Currently, there are two methods to purify origin-centered nascent strands: lambda exonuclease digestion and anti-bromodeoxyuridine immunoprecipitation. Because both methods have unique strengths and limitations, we purified nascent strands by both methods, hybridized them independently to tiling arrays (1% genome) and compared the data to have an accurate view of genome-wide origin distribution. By this criterion, we identified 150 new origins that were reproducible across the methods. Examination of a subset of these origins by chromatin immunoprecipitation against origin recognition complex (ORC) subunits 2 and 3 showed 93% of initiation peaks to localize at/within 1 kb of ORC binding sites. Correlation of origins with functional elements of the genome revealed origin activity to be significantly enriched around transcription start sites (TSSs). Consistent with proximity to TSSs, we found a third of initiation events to occur at or near the RNA polymerase II binding sites. Interestingly, ∼50% of the early origin activity was localized within 5 kb of transcription regulatory factor binding region clusters. The chromatin signatures around the origins were enriched in H3K4-(di- and tri)-methylation and H3 acetylation modifications on histones. Affinity of origins for open chromatin was also reiterated by their proximity to DNAse I-hypersensitive sites. Replication initiation peaks were AT rich, and >50% of the origins mapped to evolutionarily conserved regions of the genome. In summary, these findings indicate that replication initiation is influenced by transcription initiation and regulation as well as chromatin structure.
PMCID: PMC2814785  PMID: 19955211
11.  Rif1 Regulates Initiation Timing of Late Replication Origins throughout the S. cerevisiae Genome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98501.
Chromosomal DNA replication involves the coordinated activity of hundreds to thousands of replication origins. Individual replication origins are subject to epigenetic regulation of their activity during S-phase, resulting in differential efficiencies and timings of replication initiation during S-phase. This regulation is thought to involve chromatin structure and organization into timing domains with differential ability to recruit limiting replication factors. Rif1 has recently been identified as a genome-wide regulator of replication timing in fission yeast and in mammalian cells. However, previous studies in budding yeast have suggested that Rif1’s role in controlling replication timing may be limited to subtelomeric domains and derives from its established role in telomere length regulation. We have analyzed replication timing by analyzing BrdU incorporation genome-wide, and report that Rif1 regulates the timing of late/dormant replication origins throughout the S. cerevisiae genome. Analysis of pfa4Δ cells, which are defective in palmitoylation and membrane association of Rif1, suggests that replication timing regulation by Rif1 is independent of its role in localizing telomeres to the nuclear periphery. Intra-S checkpoint signaling is intact in rif1Δ cells, and checkpoint-defective mec1Δ cells do not comparably deregulate replication timing, together indicating that Rif1 regulates replication timing through a mechanism independent of this checkpoint. Our results indicate that the Rif1 mechanism regulates origin timing irrespective of proximity to a chromosome end, and suggest instead that telomere sequences merely provide abundant binding sites for proteins that recruit Rif1. Still, the abundance of Rif1 binding in telomeric domains may facilitate Rif1-mediated repression of non-telomeric origins that are more distal from centromeres.
PMCID: PMC4039536  PMID: 24879017
12.  Transcription Initiation Activity Sets Replication Origin Efficiency in Mammalian Cells 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(4):e1000446.
Genomic mapping of DNA replication origins (ORIs) in mammals provides a powerful means for understanding the regulatory complexity of our genome. Here we combine a genome-wide approach to identify preferential sites of DNA replication initiation at 0.4% of the mouse genome with detailed molecular analysis at distinct classes of ORIs according to their location relative to the genes. Our study reveals that 85% of the replication initiation sites in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells are associated with transcriptional units. Nearly half of the identified ORIs map at promoter regions and, interestingly, ORI density strongly correlates with promoter density, reflecting the coordinated organisation of replication and transcription in the mouse genome. Detailed analysis of ORI activity showed that CpG island promoter-ORIs are the most efficient ORIs in ES cells and both ORI specification and firing efficiency are maintained across cell types. Remarkably, the distribution of replication initiation sites at promoter-ORIs exactly parallels that of transcription start sites (TSS), suggesting a co-evolution of the regulatory regions driving replication and transcription. Moreover, we found that promoter-ORIs are significantly enriched in CAGE tags derived from early embryos relative to all promoters. This association implies that transcription initiation early in development sets the probability of ORI activation, unveiling a new hallmark in ORI efficiency regulation in mammalian cells.
Author Summary
The duplication of the genetic information of a cell starts from specific sites on the chromosomes called DNA replication origins. Their number varies from a few hundred in yeast cells to several thousands in human cells, distributed along the genome at comparable distances in both systems. An important question in the field is to understand how origins of replication are specified and regulated in the mammalian genome, as neither their location nor their activity can be directly inferred from the DNA sequence. Previous studies at individual origins and, more recently, at large scale across 1% of the human genome, have revealed that most origins overlap with transcriptional regulatory elements, and specifically with gene promoters. To gain insight into the nature of the relationship between active transcription and origin specification we have combined a genomic mapping of origins at 0.4% of the mouse genome with detailed studies of activation efficiency. The data identify two types of origins with distinct regulatory properties: highly efficient origins map at CpG island-promoters and low efficient origins locate elsewhere in association with transcriptional units. We also find a remarkable parallel organisation of the replication initiation sites and transcription start sites at efficient promoter-origins that suggests a prominent role of transcription initiation in setting the efficiency of replication origin activation.
PMCID: PMC2661365  PMID: 19360092
13.  Def1 Promotes the Degradation of Pol3 for Polymerase Exchange to Occur During DNA-Damage–Induced Mutagenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(1):e1001771.
After DNA damage, Def1 triggers degradation of the catalytic subunit of the replicative DNA polymerase at stalled replication forks, allowing special polymerases to take over DNA synthesis.
DNA damages hinder the advance of replication forks because of the inability of the replicative polymerases to synthesize across most DNA lesions. Because stalled replication forks are prone to undergo DNA breakage and recombination that can lead to chromosomal rearrangements and cell death, cells possess different mechanisms to ensure the continuity of replication on damaged templates. Specialized, translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases can take over synthesis at DNA damage sites. TLS polymerases synthesize DNA with a high error rate and are responsible for damage-induced mutagenesis, so their activity must be strictly regulated. However, the mechanism that allows their replacement of the replicative polymerase is unknown. Here, using protein complex purification and yeast genetic tools, we identify Def1 as a key factor for damage-induced mutagenesis in yeast. In in vivo experiments we demonstrate that upon DNA damage, Def1 promotes the ubiquitylation and subsequent proteasomal degradation of Pol3, the catalytic subunit of the replicative polymerase δ, whereas Pol31 and Pol32, the other two subunits of polymerase δ, are not affected. We also show that purified Pol31 and Pol32 can form a complex with the TLS polymerase Rev1. Our results imply that TLS polymerases carry out DNA lesion bypass only after the Def1-assisted removal of Pol3 from the stalled replication fork.
Author Summary
DNA damages can lead to the stalling of the cellular replication machinery if not repaired on time, inducing DNA strand breaks, recombination that can result in gross chromosomal rearrangements, even cell death. In order to guard against this outcome, cells have evolved several precautionary mechanisms. One of these involves the activity of special DNA polymerases—known as translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases. In contrast to the replicative polymerases responsible for faithfully duplicating the genome, these can carry out DNA synthesis even on a damaged template. For that to occur, they have to take over synthesis from the replicative polymerase that is stalled at a DNA lesion. Although this mechanism allows DNA synthesis to proceed, TLS polymerases work with a high error rate even on undamaged DNA, leading to alterations of the original sequence that can result in cancer. Consequently, the exchange between replicative and special polymerases has to be highly regulated, and the details of this are largely unknown. Here we identified Def1—a protein involved in the degradation of RNA polymerase II—as a prerequisite for error-prone DNA synthesis in yeast. We showed that after treating the cells with a DNA damaging agent, Def1 promoted the degradation of the catalytic subunit of the replicative DNA polymerase δ, without affecting the other two subunits of the polymerase. Our data suggest that the special polymerases can take over synthesis only after the catalytic subunit of the replicative polymerase is removed from the stalled fork in a regulated manner. We predict that the other two subunits remain at the fork and participate in TLS together with the special polymerases.
PMCID: PMC3897375  PMID: 24465179
14.  A Natural Polymorphism in rDNA Replication Origins Links Origin Activation with Calorie Restriction and Lifespan 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003329.
Aging and longevity are complex traits influenced by genetic and environmental factors. To identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that control replicative lifespan, we employed an outbred Saccharomyces cerevisiae model, generated by crossing a vineyard and a laboratory strain. The predominant QTL mapped to the rDNA, with the vineyard rDNA conferring a lifespan increase of 41%. The lifespan extension was independent of Sir2 and Fob1, but depended on a polymorphism in the rDNA origin of replication from the vineyard strain that reduced origin activation relative to the laboratory origin. Strains carrying vineyard rDNA origins have increased capacity for replication initiation at weak plasmid and genomic origins, suggesting that inability to complete genome replication presents a major impediment to replicative lifespan. Calorie restriction, a conserved mediator of lifespan extension that is also independent of Sir2 and Fob1, reduces rDNA origin firing in both laboratory and vineyard rDNA. Our results are consistent with the possibility that calorie restriction, similarly to the vineyard rDNA polymorphism, modulates replicative lifespan through control of rDNA origin activation, which in turn affects genome replication dynamics.
Author Summary
Although many aging regulators have been discovered, we are still uncovering how each contributes to the basic biology underlying cell lifespan and how certain longevity-promoting regimens, such as calorie restriction, manipulate the aging process across species. Since many cellular aging processes between human cells and budding yeast are related, we examined a collection of genetically diverse yeast and discovered that a genetic variant in vineyard yeast confers a 41% lifespan increase. The responsible sequence in the vineyard yeast reduces the amount of DNA replication that initiates at the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) locus, a chromosome-sized region of the genome that is dedicated to the production of ribosomal RNA required for protein synthesis and growth. Strikingly, we find that calorie restriction conditions also reduce rDNA replication, potentially promoting longevity by the same mechanism. While the rDNA has been previously linked to lifespan control, how this single locus affects global cell function has remained elusive. We find that a weakly replicating rDNA promotes DNA replication across the rest of the cell's genome, perhaps through the re-allocation of replication resources from decreased rDNA demand. Our findings suggest that the cell's inability to complete genome replication is one of the major impediments to yeast longevity.
PMCID: PMC3591295  PMID: 23505383
15.  Chromatin is an ancient innovation conserved between Archaea and Eukarya 
eLife  2012;1:e00078.
The eukaryotic nucleosome is the fundamental unit of chromatin, comprising a protein octamer that wraps ∼147 bp of DNA and has essential roles in DNA compaction, replication and gene expression. Nucleosomes and chromatin have historically been considered to be unique to eukaryotes, yet studies of select archaea have identified homologs of histone proteins that assemble into tetrameric nucleosomes. Here we report the first archaeal genome-wide nucleosome occupancy map, as observed in the halophile Haloferax volcanii. Nucleosome occupancy was compared with gene expression by compiling a comprehensive transcriptome of Hfx. volcanii. We found that archaeal transcripts possess hallmarks of eukaryotic chromatin structure: nucleosome-depleted regions at transcriptional start sites and conserved −1 and +1 promoter nucleosomes. Our observations demonstrate that histones and chromatin architecture evolved before the divergence of Archaea and Eukarya, suggesting that the fundamental role of chromatin in the regulation of gene expression is ancient.
eLife digest
Single-celled microorganisms called archaea are one of the three domains of cellular life, along with bacteria and eukaryotes. Archaea are similar to bacteria in that they do not have nuclei, but genetically they have more in common with eukaryotes. Archaea are found in a wide range of habitats including the human colon, marshlands, the ocean and extreme environments such as hot springs and salt lakes.
It has been known since the 1990s that the DNA of archaea is wrapped around histones to form complexes that closely resemble the nucleosomes found in eukaryotes, albeit with four rather than eight histone subunits. Nucleosomes are the fundamental units of chromatin, the highly-ordered and compact structure that all the DNA in a cell is packed into. Now we know exactly how many nucleosomes are present in a given cell for some eukaryotes, notably yeast, and to a good approximation we know the position of each nucleosome during a variety of metabolic states and physiological conditions. We can also quantify the nucleosome occupancy, which is measure of the length of time that the nucleosomes spend in contact with the DNA: this is a critical piece of information because it determines the level of access that other proteins, including those that regulate gene expression, have to the DNA. These advances have been driven in large part by advances in technology, notably high-density microarrays for genome wide-studies of nucleosome occupancy, and massively parallel sequencing for direct nucleosome sequencing.
Ammar et al. have used these techniques to explore how the DNA of Haloferax volcanii, a species of archaea that thrives in the hyper-salty waters of the Dead Sea, is organized on a genome-wide basis. Despite some clear differences between the genomes of archaea and eukaryotes—for example, genomic DNA is typically circular in archaea and linear in eukaryotes—they found that the genome of Hfx. volcanii is organized into chromatin in a way that is remarkably similar to that seen in all eukaryotic genomes studied to date. This is surprising given that the chromatin in eukaryotes is confined to the nucleus, whereas there are no such constraints in archaea. In particular, Ammar et al. found that those regions of the DNA near the ends of genes that mark where the transcription of the DNA into RNA should begin and end contain have lower nucleosome occupancy than other regions. Moreover, the overall level of occupancy in Hfx. volcanii was twice that of eukaryotes, which is what one would expect given that nucleosomes in archaea contain half as many histone subunits as nucleosomes in eukaryotes. Ammar et al. also confirmed that that the degree of nucleosome occupancy is correlated with gene expression.
These two findings—the similarities between the chromatin in archaea and eukaryotes, and the correlation between nucleosome occupancy and gene expression in archaea—raise an interesting evolutionary possibility: the initial function of nucleosomes and chromatin formation might have been for the regulation of gene expression rather than the packaging of DNA. This is consistent with two decades of research that has shown that there is an extraordinary and complex relationship between the structure of chromatin and the process of gene expression. It is possible, therefore, that as the early eukaryotes evolved, nucleosomes and chromatin started to package DNA into compact structures that, among other things, helped to prevent DNA damage, and that this subsequently enabled the early eukaryotes to flourish.
PMCID: PMC3510453  PMID: 23240084
Haloferax volcanii; Nucleosome; Chromatin; Transcriptome; RNA-seq; Archaea; Other
16.  A model of yeast cell-cycle regulation based on multisite phosphorylation 
Multisite phosphorylation of CDK target proteins provides the requisite nonlinearity for cell cycle modeling using elementary reaction mechanisms.Stochastic simulations, based on Gillespie's algorithm and using realistic numbers of protein and mRNA molecules, compare favorably with single-cell measurements in budding yeast.The role of transcription–translation coupling is critical in the robust operation of protein regulatory networks in yeast cells.
Progression through the eukaryotic cell cycle is governed by the activation and inactivation of a family of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and auxiliary proteins that regulate CDK activities (Morgan, 2007). The many components of this protein regulatory network are interconnected by positive and negative feedback loops that create bistable switches and transient pulses (Tyson and Novak, 2008). The network must ensure that cell-cycle events proceed in the correct order, that cell division is balanced with respect to cell growth, and that any problems encountered (in replicating the genome or partitioning chromosomes to daughter cells) are corrected before the cell proceeds to the next phase of the cycle. The network must operate robustly in the context of unavoidable molecular fluctuations in a yeast-sized cell. With a volume of only 5×10−14 l, a yeast cell contains one copy of the gene for each component of the network, a handful of mRNA transcripts of each gene, and a few hundreds to thousands of protein molecules carrying out each gene's function. How large are the molecular fluctuations implied by these numbers, and what effects do they have on the functioning of the cell-cycle control system?
To answer these questions, we have built a new model (Figure 1) of the CDK regulatory network in budding yeast, based on the fact that the targets of CDK activity are typically phosphorylated on multiple sites. The activity of each target protein depends on how many sites are phosphorylated. The target proteins feedback on CDK activity by controlling cyclin synthesis (SBF's role) and degradation (Cdh1's role) and by releasing a CDK-counteracting phosphatase (Cdc14). Every reaction in Figure 1 can be described by a mass-action rate law, with an accompanying rate constant that must be estimated from experimental data. As the transcription and translation of mRNA molecules have major effects on fluctuating numbers of protein molecules (Pedraza and Paulsson, 2008), we have included mRNA transcripts for each protein in the model.
To create a deterministic model, the rate laws are combined, according to standard principles of chemical kinetics, into a set of 60 differential equations that govern the temporal dynamics of the control system. In the stochastic version of the model, the rate law for each reaction determines the probability per unit time that a particular reaction occurs, and we use Gillespie's stochastic simulation algorithm (Gillespie, 1976) to compute possible temporal sequences of reaction events. Accurate stochastic simulations require knowledge of the expected numbers of mRNA and protein molecules in a single yeast cell. Fortunately, these numbers are available from several sources (Ghaemmaghami et al, 2003; Zenklusen et al, 2008). Although the experimental estimates are not always in good agreement with each other, they are sufficiently reliable to populate a stochastic model with realistic numbers of molecules.
By simulating thousands of cells (as in Figure 5), we can build up representative samples for computing the mean and s.d. of any measurable cell-cycle property (e.g. interdivision time, size at division, duration of G1 phase). The excellent fit of simulated statistics to observations of cell-cycle variability is documented in the main text and Supplementary Information.
Of particular interest to us are observations of Di Talia et al (2007) of the timing of a crucial G1 event (export of Whi5 protein from the nucleus) in a population of budding yeast cells growing at a specific growth rate α=ln2/(mass-doubling time). Whi5 export is a consequence of Whi5 phosphorylation, and it occurs simultaneously with the release (activation) of SBF (see Figure 1). Using fluorescently labeled Whi5, Di Talia et al could easily measure (in individual yeast cells) the time, T1, from cell birth to the abrupt loss of Whi5 from the nucleus. Correlating T1 to the size of the cell at birth, Vbirth, they found that, for a sample of daughter cells, αT1 versus ln(Vbirth) could be fit with two straight lines of slope −0.7 and −0.3. Our simulation of this experiment (Figure 7 of the main text) compares favorably with Figure 3d and e in Di Talia et al (2007).
The major sources of noise in our model (and in protein regulatory networks in yeast cells, in general) are related to gene transcription and the small number of unique mRNA transcripts. As each mRNA molecule may instruct the synthesis of dozens of protein molecules, the coefficient of variation of molecular fluctuations at the protein level (CVP) may be dominated by fluctuations at the mRNA level, as expressed in the formula (Pedraza and Paulsson, 2008) where NM, NP denote the number of mRNA and protein molecules, respectively, and ρ=τM/τP is the ratio of half-lives of mRNA and protein molecules. For a yeast cell, typical values of NM and NP are 8 and 800, respectively (Ghaemmaghami et al, 2003; Zenklusen et al, 2008). If ρ=1, then CVP≈25%. Such large fluctuations in protein levels are inconsistent with the observed variability of size and age at division in yeast cells, as shown in the simplified cell-cycle model of Kar et al (2009) and as we have confirmed with our more realistic model. The size of these fluctuations can be reduced to a more acceptable level by assuming a shorter half-life for mRNA (say, ρ=0.1).
There must be some mechanisms whereby yeast cells lessen the protein fluctuations implied by transcription–translation coupling. Following Pedraza and Paulsson (2008), we suggest that mRNA gestation and senescence may resolve this problem. Equation (3) is based on a simple, one-stage, birth–death model of mRNA turnover. In Supplementary Appendix 1, we show that a model of mRNA processing, with 10 stages each of mRNA gestation and senescence, gives reasonable fluctuations at the protein level (CVP≈5%), even if the effective half-life of mRNA is 10 min. A one-stage model with τM=1 min gives comparable fluctuations (CVP≈5%). In the main text, we use a simple birth–death model of mRNA turnover with an ‘effective' half-life of 1 min, in order to limit the computational complexity of the full cell-cycle model.
In order for the cell's genome to be passed intact from one generation to the next, the events of the cell cycle (DNA replication, mitosis, cell division) must be executed in the correct order, despite the considerable molecular noise inherent in any protein-based regulatory system residing in the small confines of a eukaryotic cell. To assess the effects of molecular fluctuations on cell-cycle progression in budding yeast cells, we have constructed a new model of the regulation of Cln- and Clb-dependent kinases, based on multisite phosphorylation of their target proteins and on positive and negative feedback loops involving the kinases themselves. To account for the significant role of noise in the transcription and translation steps of gene expression, the model includes mRNAs as well as proteins. The model equations are simulated deterministically and stochastically to reveal the bistable switching behavior on which proper cell-cycle progression depends and to show that this behavior is robust to the level of molecular noise expected in yeast-sized cells (∼50 fL volume). The model gives a quantitatively accurate account of the variability observed in the G1-S transition in budding yeast, which is governed by an underlying sizer+timer control system.
PMCID: PMC2947364  PMID: 20739927
bistability; cell-cycle variability; size control; stochastic model; transcription–translation coupling
17.  Regulatory Mechanisms That Prevent Re-initiation of DNA Replication Can Be Locally Modulated at Origins by Nearby Sequence Elements 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(6):e1004358.
Eukaryotic cells must inhibit re-initiation of DNA replication at each of the thousands of origins in their genome because re-initiation can generate genomic alterations with extraordinary frequency. To minimize the probability of re-initiation from so many origins, cells use a battery of regulatory mechanisms that reduce the activity of replication initiation proteins. Given the global nature of these mechanisms, it has been presumed that all origins are inhibited identically. However, origins re-initiate with diverse efficiencies when these mechanisms are disabled, and this diversity cannot be explained by differences in the efficiency or timing of origin initiation during normal S phase replication. This observation raises the possibility of an additional layer of replication control that can differentially regulate re-initiation at distinct origins. We have identified novel genetic elements that are necessary for preferential re-initiation of two origins and sufficient to confer preferential re-initiation on heterologous origins when the control of re-initiation is partially deregulated. The elements do not enhance the S phase timing or efficiency of adjacent origins and thus are specifically acting as re-initiation promoters (RIPs). We have mapped the two RIPs to ∼60 bp AT rich sequences that act in a distance- and sequence-dependent manner. During the induction of re-replication, Mcm2-7 reassociates both with origins that preferentially re-initiate and origins that do not, suggesting that the RIP elements can overcome a block to re-initiation imposed after Mcm2-7 associates with origins. Our findings identify a local level of control in the block to re-initiation. This local control creates a complex genomic landscape of re-replication potential that is revealed when global mechanisms preventing re-replication are compromised. Hence, if re-replication does contribute to genomic alterations, as has been speculated for cancer cells, some regions of the genome may be more susceptible to these alterations than others.
Author Summary
Eukaryotic organisms have hundreds to thousands of DNA replication origins distributed throughout their genomes. Faithful duplication of these genomes requires a multitude of global controls that ensure that every replication origin initiates at most once per cell cycle. Disruptions in these controls can result in re-initiation of origins and localized re-replication of the surrounding genome. Such re-replicated genomic segments are converted to stable chromosomal alterations with extraordinarily efficiency and could provide a potential source of genomic alterations associated with cancer cells. This publication establishes the existence of a local layer of replication control by identifying new genetic elements, termed re-initiation promoters (RIPs) that can locally override some of the global mechanisms preventing re-initiation. Origins adjacent to RIP elements are not as tightly controlled and thus more susceptible to re-initiation, especially when these global controls are compromised. We speculate that RIP elements contribute to genomic variability in origin control and make some regions of the genome more susceptible to re-replication induced genomic instability.
PMCID: PMC4063666  PMID: 24945837
18.  The Histone Variant H3.3 Is Enriched at Drosophila Amplicon Origins but Does Not Mark Them for Activation 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2016;6(6):1661-1671.
Eukaryotic DNA replication begins from multiple origins. The origin recognition complex (ORC) binds origin DNA and scaffolds assembly of a prereplicative complex (pre-RC), which is subsequently activated to initiate DNA replication. In multicellular eukaryotes, origins do not share a strict DNA consensus sequence, and their activity changes in concert with chromatin status during development, but mechanisms are ill-defined. Previous genome-wide analyses in Drosophila and other organisms have revealed a correlation between ORC binding sites and the histone variant H3.3. This correlation suggests that H3.3 may designate origin sites, but this idea has remained untested. To address this question, we examined the enrichment and function of H3.3 at the origins responsible for developmental gene amplification in the somatic follicle cells of the Drosophila ovary. We found that H3.3 is abundant at these amplicon origins. H3.3 levels remained high when replication initiation was blocked, indicating that H3.3 is abundant at the origins before activation of the pre-RC. H3.3 was also enriched at the origins during early oogenesis, raising the possibility that H3.3 bookmarks sites for later amplification. However, flies null mutant for both of the H3.3 genes in Drosophila did not have overt defects in developmental gene amplification or genomic replication, suggesting that H3.3 is not essential for the assembly or activation of the pre-RC at origins. Instead, our results imply that the correlation between H3.3 and ORC sites reflects other chromatin attributes that are important for origin function.
PMCID: PMC4889662  PMID: 27172191
DNA replication; H3.3; amplicon; chromatin; histone variant
19.  Genetic and Physical Mapping of DNA Replication Origins in Haloferax volcanii 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(5):e77.
The halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii has a multireplicon genome, consisting of a main chromosome, three secondary chromosomes, and a plasmid. Genes for the initiator protein Cdc6/Orc1, which are commonly located adjacent to archaeal origins of DNA replication, are found on all replicons except plasmid pHV2. However, prediction of DNA replication origins in H. volcanii is complicated by the fact that this species has no less than 14 cdc6/orc1 genes. We have used a combination of genetic, biochemical, and bioinformatic approaches to map DNA replication origins in H. volcanii. Five autonomously replicating sequences were found adjacent to cdc6/orc1 genes and replication initiation point mapping was used to confirm that these sequences function as bidirectional DNA replication origins in vivo. Pulsed field gel analyses revealed that cdc6/orc1-associated replication origins are distributed not only on the main chromosome (2.9 Mb) but also on pHV1 (86 kb), pHV3 (442 kb), and pHV4 (690 kb) replicons. Gene inactivation studies indicate that linkage of the initiator gene to the origin is not required for replication initiation, and genetic tests with autonomously replicating plasmids suggest that the origin located on pHV1 and pHV4 may be dominant to the principal chromosomal origin. The replication origins we have identified appear to show a functional hierarchy or differential usage, which might reflect the different replication requirements of their respective chromosomes. We propose that duplication of H. volcanii replication origins was a prerequisite for the multireplicon structure of this genome, and that this might provide a means for chromosome-specific replication control under certain growth conditions. Our observations also suggest that H. volcanii is an ideal organism for studying how replication of four replicons is regulated in the context of the archaeal cell cycle.
Author Summary
Haloferax volcanii is a member of the archaea, which are renowned for thriving in extreme environments. Archaea have circular chromosomes like bacteria but use enzymes similar to those found in eukaryotes to replicate their DNA. Few archaeal species have systems for genetics, and this has limited our understanding of DNA replication. We used genetics to map the chromosomal sites (origins) at which DNA replication initiates in H. volcanii. This species has a multipart genome comprising one main chromosome, three secondary chromosomes, and a plasmid. Five DNA replication origins were found and confirmed to function in vivo. All are adjacent to genes for the initiator protein Cdc6/Orc1, a common feature of archaeal replication origins. Two of the sequences are located on the main chromosome, confirming that multiple origins are often used to replicate circular chromosomes in archaea. Intriguingly, one of the origins from a secondary chromosome appears “dominant” to the principal chromosomal origin, suggesting either a hierarchy or differential usage of origins. This might reflect the different replication requirements of their respective chromosomes. Given the ease of genetic manipulation, H. volcanii holds great promise for studying how replication of four chromosomes is regulated in the context of the archaeal cell cycle.
PMCID: PMC1868953  PMID: 17511521
20.  Single-Stranded Annealing Induced by Re-Initiation of Replication Origins Provides a Novel and Efficient Mechanism for Generating Copy Number Expansion via Non-Allelic Homologous Recombination 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003192.
Copy number expansions such as amplifications and duplications contribute to human phenotypic variation, promote molecular diversification during evolution, and drive the initiation and/or progression of various cancers. The mechanisms underlying these copy number changes are still incompletely understood, however. We recently demonstrated that transient, limited re-replication from a single origin in Saccharomyces cerevisiae efficiently induces segmental amplification of the re-replicated region. Structural analyses of such re-replication induced gene amplifications (RRIGA) suggested that RRIGA could provide a new mechanism for generating copy number variation by non-allelic homologous recombination (NAHR). Here we elucidate this new mechanism and provide insight into why it is so efficient. We establish that sequence homology is both necessary and sufficient for repetitive elements to participate in RRIGA and show that their recombination occurs by a single-strand annealing (SSA) mechanism. We also find that re-replication forks are prone to breakage, accounting for the widespread DNA damage associated with deregulation of replication proteins. These breaks appear to stimulate NAHR between re-replicated repeat sequences flanking a re-initiating replication origin. Our results support a RRIGA model where the expansion of a re-replication bubble beyond flanking homologous sequences followed by breakage at both forks in trans provides an ideal structural context for SSA–mediated NAHR to form a head-to-tail duplication. Given the remarkable efficiency of RRIGA, we suggest it may be an unappreciated contributor to copy number expansions in both disease and evolution.
Author Summary
Duplications and amplifications of chromosomal segments are frequently observed in eukaryotic genomes, including both normal and cancerous human genomes. These copy number variations contribute to the phenotypic variation upon which natural selection acts. For example, the amplification of genes whose excessive copy number facilitates uncontrolled cell division is often selected for during tumor development. Copy number variations can often arise when repetitive sequence elements, which are dispersed throughout eukaryotic genomes, undergo a rearrangement called non-allelic homologous recombination. Exactly how these rearrangements occur is poorly understood. Here, using budding yeast to model this class of copy number variation, we uncover a new and highly efficient mechanism by which these variations can be generated. The precipitating event is the aberrant re-initiation of DNA replication at a replication origin. Normally the hundreds to thousands of origins scattered throughout a eukaryotic genome are tightly controlled such that each is permitted to initiate only once per cell cycle. However, disruptions in these controls can allow origins to re-initiate, and we show how the resulting DNA re-replication structure can be readily converted into a tandem duplication via non-allelic homologous recombination. Hence, the re-initiation of DNA replication is a potential source of copy number variation both in disease and during evolution.
PMCID: PMC3536649  PMID: 23300490
21.  Methylation of Histone H3 on Lysine 79 Associates with a Group of Replication Origins and Helps Limit DNA Replication Once per Cell Cycle 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(6):e1003542.
Mammalian DNA replication starts at distinct chromosomal sites in a tissue-specific pattern coordinated with transcription, but previous studies have not yet identified a chromatin modification that correlates with the initiation of DNA replication at particular genomic locations. Here we report that a distinct fraction of replication initiation sites in the human genome are associated with a high frequency of dimethylation of histone H3 lysine K79 (H3K79Me2). H3K79Me2-containing chromatin exhibited the highest genome-wide enrichment for replication initiation events observed for any chromatin modification examined thus far (23.39% of H3K79Me2 peaks were detected in regions adjacent to replication initiation events). The association of H3K79Me2 with replication initiation sites was independent and not synergistic with other chromatin modifications. H3K79 dimethylation exhibited wider distribution on chromatin during S-phase, but only regions with H3K79 methylation in G1 and G2 were enriched in replication initiation events. H3K79 was dimethylated in a region containing a functional replicator (a DNA sequence capable of initiating DNA replication), but the methylation was not evident in a mutant replicator that could not initiate replication. Depletion of DOT1L, the sole enzyme responsible for H3K79 methylation, triggered limited genomic over-replication although most cells could continue to proliferate and replicate DNA in the absence of methylated H3K79. Thus, prevention of H3K79 methylation might affect regulatory processes that modulate the order and timing of DNA replication. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that dimethylated H3K79 associates with some replication origins and marks replicated chromatin during S-phase to prevent re-replication and preserve genomic stability.
Author Summary
Before each cell division, cells must accurately duplicate their chromosomes. It is critical that cells coordinate the replication of DNA with the packaging of DNA into chromosomes to insure that all genetic and epigenetic information is accurately transmitted to the next generation. In eukaryotes, replication starts at multiple sites, called “replication origins,” which are distributed throughout the genome and initiate replication in a strict order to maintain genomic stability and prevent cancer. Previous studies looked at the effect of chemical modifications on histone proteins, which affect chromosome packaging, on replication but no particular histone modifications distinctly associated with replication start sites. Here, we took advantage of recent advances in whole genome sequencing to map replication origins and histone modifications for the entire DNA in human cancer cells. One of the histone modifications we tested, methylation of lysine 79 on histone H3, was remarkably enriched at a group of replication origins. Inhibiting the enzyme that catalyzes this histone modification caused some DNA to replicate more than once during a single cell cycle, suggesting that methylation of histone H3 on lysine 79 might play an important role in controlling DNA replication.
PMCID: PMC3674996  PMID: 23754963
22.  Origin Replication Complex Binding, Nucleosome Depletion Patterns, and a Primary Sequence Motif Can Predict Origins of Replication in a Genome with Epigenetic Centromeres 
mBio  2014;5(5):e01703-14.
Origins of DNA replication are key genetic elements, yet their identification remains elusive in most organisms. In previous work, we found that centromeres contain origins of replication (ORIs) that are determined epigenetically in the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans. In this study, we used origin recognition complex (ORC) binding and nucleosome occupancy patterns in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Kluyveromyces lactis to train a machine learning algorithm to predict the position of active arm (noncentromeric) origins in the C. albicans genome. The model identified bona fide active origins as determined by the presence of replication intermediates on nondenaturing two-dimensional (2D) gels. Importantly, these origins function at their native chromosomal loci and also as autonomously replicating sequences (ARSs) on a linear plasmid. A “mini-ARS screen” identified at least one and often two ARS regions of ≥100 bp within each bona fide origin. Furthermore, a 15-bp AC-rich consensus motif was associated with the predicted origins and conferred autonomous replicating activity to the mini-ARSs. Thus, while centromeres and the origins associated with them are epigenetic, arm origins are dependent upon critical DNA features, such as a binding site for ORC and a propensity for nucleosome exclusion.
DNA replication machinery is highly conserved, yet the definition of exactly what specifies a replication origin differs in different species. Here, we utilized computational genomics to predict origin locations in Candida albicans by combining locations of binding sites for the conserved origin replication complex, necessary for replication initiation, together with chromatin organization patterns. We identified predicted sequences that exhibited bona fide origin function and developed a linear plasmid assay to delimit the DNA fragments necessary for origin function. Additionally, we found that a short AC-rich motif, which is enriched in predicted origins, is required for origin function. Thus, we demonstrated a new machine learning paradigm for identification of potential origins from a genome with no prior information. Furthermore, this work suggests that C. albicans has two different types of origins: “hard-wired” arm origins that rely upon specific sequence motifs and “epigenetic” centromeric origins that are recruited to kinetochores in a sequence-independent manner.
PMCID: PMC4173791  PMID: 25182328
23.  Arabidopsis thaliana Chromosome 4 Replicates in Two Phases That Correlate with Chromatin State 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(6):e1000982.
DNA replication programs have been studied extensively in yeast and animal systems, where they have been shown to correlate with gene expression and certain epigenetic modifications. Despite the conservation of core DNA replication proteins, little is known about replication programs in plants. We used flow cytometry and tiling microarrays to profile DNA replication of Arabidopsis thaliana chromosome 4 (chr4) during early, mid, and late S phase. Replication profiles for early and mid S phase were similar and encompassed the majority of the euchromatin. Late S phase exhibited a distinctly different profile that includes the remaining euchromatin and essentially all of the heterochromatin. Termination zones were consistent between experiments, allowing us to define 163 putative replicons on chr4 that clustered into larger domains of predominately early or late replication. Early-replicating sequences, especially the initiation zones of early replicons, displayed a pattern of epigenetic modifications specifying an open chromatin conformation. Late replicons, and the termination zones of early replicons, showed an opposite pattern. Histone H3 acetylated on lysine 56 (H3K56ac) was enriched in early replicons, as well as the initiation zones of both early and late replicons. H3K56ac was also associated with expressed genes, but this effect was local whereas replication time correlated with H3K56ac over broad regions. The similarity of the replication profiles for early and mid S phase cells indicates that replication origin activation in euchromatin is stochastic. Replicon organization in Arabidopsis is strongly influenced by epigenetic modifications to histones and DNA. The domain organization of Arabidopsis is more similar to that in Drosophila than that in mammals, which may reflect genome size and complexity. The distinct patterns of association of H3K56ac with gene expression and early replication provide evidence that H3K56ac may be associated with initiation zones and replication origins.
Author Summary
During growth and development, all plants and animals must replicate their DNA. This process is regulated to ensure that all sequences are completely and accurately replicated and is limited to S phase of the cell cycle. In the cell, DNA is packaged with histone proteins into chromatin, and both DNA and histones are subject to epigenetic modifications that affect chromatin state. Euchromatin and heterochromatin are chromatin states marked by epigenetic modifications specifying open and closed conformations, respectively. Using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, we show that the time at which a DNA sequence replicates is influenced by the epigenetic modifications to the surrounding chromatin. DNA replication occurs in two phases, with euchromatin replicating in early and mid S phase and heterochromatin replicating late. DNA replication time has been linked to gene expression in other organisms, and this is also true in Arabidopsis because more genes are active in euchromatin when compared to heterochromatin. The earliest replicating DNA sequences are associated with acetylation of histone H3 on lysine 56 (H3K56ac). H3K56ac is also abundant in active genes, but the patterns of association of H3K56ac with gene expression and DNA replication are distinct, suggesting that H3K56ac is independently linked to both processes.
PMCID: PMC2883604  PMID: 20548960
24.  Recent advances in the genome-wide study of DNA replication origins in yeast 
DNA replication, one of the central events in the cell cycle, is the basis of biological inheritance. In order to be duplicated, a DNA double helix must be opened at defined sites, which are called DNA replication origins (ORIs). Unlike in bacteria, where replication initiates from a single replication origin, multiple origins are utilized in the eukaryotic genomes. Among them, the ORIs in budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe have been best characterized. In recent years, advances in DNA microarray and next-generation sequencing technologies have increased the number of yeast species involved in ORIs research dramatically. The ORIs in some non-conventional yeast species such as Kluyveromyces lactis and Pichia pastoris have also been genome-widely identified. Relevant databases of replication origins in yeast were constructed, then the comparative genomic analysis can be carried out. Here, we review several experimental approaches that have been used to map replication origins in yeast and some of the available web resources related to yeast ORIs. We also discuss the sequence characteristics and chromosome structures of ORIs in the four yeast species, which can be utilized to improve yeast replication origins prediction.
PMCID: PMC4333867  PMID: 25745419
DNA replication; replication origin; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Schizosaccharomyces pombe; Kluyveromyces lactis; Pichia pastoris
25.  Epigenetically-Inherited Centromere and Neocentromere DNA Replicates Earliest in S-Phase 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(8):e1001068.
Eukaryotic centromeres are maintained at specific chromosomal sites over many generations. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, centromeres are genetic elements defined by a DNA sequence that is both necessary and sufficient for function; whereas, in most other eukaryotes, centromeres are maintained by poorly characterized epigenetic mechanisms in which DNA has a less definitive role. Here we use the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans as a model organism to study the DNA replication properties of centromeric DNA. By determining the genome-wide replication timing program of the C. albicans genome, we discovered that each centromere is associated with a replication origin that is the first to fire on its respective chromosome. Importantly, epigenetic formation of new ectopic centromeres (neocentromeres) was accompanied by shifts in replication timing, such that a neocentromere became the first to replicate and became associated with origin recognition complex (ORC) components. Furthermore, changing the level of the centromere-specific histone H3 isoform led to a concomitant change in levels of ORC association with centromere regions, further supporting the idea that centromere proteins determine origin activity. Finally, analysis of centromere-associated DNA revealed a replication-dependent sequence pattern characteristic of constitutively active replication origins. This strand-biased pattern is conserved, together with centromere position, among related strains and species, in a manner independent of primary DNA sequence. Thus, inheritance of centromere position is correlated with a constitutively active origin of replication that fires at a distinct early time. We suggest a model in which the distinct timing of DNA replication serves as an epigenetic mechanism for the inheritance of centromere position.
Author Summary
Centromeres form at the same chromosomal position from generation to generation, yet in most species this inheritance occurs in a DNA sequence–independent manner that is not well understood. Here, we determine the timing of DNA replication across the genome of the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans and find that centromeric DNA is the first locus to replicate on each chromosome. Furthemore, this unique replication timing may be important for centromere inheritance, based on several observations. First, DNA sequence patterns at centromeres indicate that, despite high levels of primary sequence divergence, the region has served as a replication origin for millions of years; second, formation of a neocentromere (a new centromere formed at an ectopic locus following deletion of the native centromere DNA) results in the establishment of a new, early-firing origin of replication; and third, a centromere-specific protein, Cse4p, recruits origin replication complex proteins in a concentration-dependent manner. Thus, centromere position is inherited by an epigenetic mechanism that appears to be defined by a distinctively early firing DNA replication origin.
PMCID: PMC2924309  PMID: 20808889

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