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1.  Mapping of a replication origin within the promoter region of two unlinked, abundantly transcribed actin genes of Physarum polycephalum. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1996;16(3):968-976.
We analyzed the replication of two unlinked actin genes, ardB and ardC , which are abundantly transcribed in the naturally synchronous plasmodium of the slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Detection and size measurements of single-stranded nascent replication intermediates (RIs) demonstrate that these two genes are concomitantly replicated at the onset of the 3-h S phase and tightly linked to replication origins. Appearance of RIs on neutral-neutral two-dimensional gels at specific time points in early S phase and analysis of their structure confirmed these results and further established that, in both cases, an efficient, site-specific, bidirectional origin of replication is localized within the promoter region of the gene. We also determined similar elongation rates for the divergent replication forks of the ardC gene replicon. Finally, taking advantage of a restriction fragment length polymorphism, we studied allelic replicons and demonstrate similar localizations and a simultaneous firing of allelic replication origins. Computer search revealed a low level of homology between the promoters of ardB and ardC and, most notably, the absence of DNA sequences similar to the yeast autonomously replicating sequence consensus sequence in these Physarum origin regions. Our results with the ardB and ardC actin genes support the model of early replicating origins located within the promoter regions of abundantly transcribed genes in P. polycephalum.
PMCID: PMC231079  PMID: 8622700
2.  The One-Kilobase DNA Fragment Upstream of the ardC Actin Gene of Physarum polycephalum Is Both a Replicator and a Promoter 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(5):3506-3514.
The 1-kb DNA fragment upstream of the ardC actin gene of Physarum polycephalum promotes the transcription of a reporter gene either in a transient-plasmid assay or as an integrated copy in an ectopic position, defining this region as the transcriptional promoter of the ardC gene (PardC). Since we mapped an origin of replication activated at the onset of S phase within this same fragment, we examined the pattern of replication of a cassette containing the PardC promoter and the hygromycin phosphotransferase gene, hph, integrated into two different chromosomal sites. In both cases, we show by two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis that an efficient, early activated origin coincides with the ectopic PardC fragment. One of the integration sites was a normally late-replicating region. The presence of the ectopic origin converted this late-replicating domain into an early-replicating domain in which replication forks propagate with kinetics indistinguishable from those of the native PardC replicon. This is the first demonstration that initiation sites for DNA replication in Physarum correspond to cis-acting replicator sequences. This work also confirms the close proximity of a replication origin and a promoter, with both functions being located within the 1-kb proximal region of the ardC actin gene. A more precise location of the replication origin with respect to the transcriptional promoter must await the development of a functional autonomously replicating sequence assay in Physarum.
PMCID: PMC84143  PMID: 10207074
3.  Mapping of a Physarum chromosomal origin of replication tightly linked to a developmentally-regulated profilin gene. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1992;20(13):3309-3315.
We compared the pattern of replication of two cell-type specific profilin genes in one developmental stage of the slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Taking advantage of the natural synchrony of S-phase within the plasmodium, we established that the actively transcribed profilin P gene is tightly linked to a chromosomal replication origin and is replicated at the onset of S-phase. In contrast, the inactive profilin A gene is not associated with a replication origin and it is duplicated in mid S-phase. Mapping by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis defines a short DNA fragment in the proximal upstream region of the profilin P gene from which bidirectional replication is initiated. We further provide an estimate of the kinetics of elongation of the replicon and demonstrate that the 2 alleles of the profilin P gene are coordinately replicated. All these results were obtained on total DNA preparations extracted from untreated cells. They provide a strong evidence for site specific initiation of DNA replication in Physarum.
PMCID: PMC312482  PMID: 1630902
4.  The P450 oxidoreductase, RedA, controls development beyond the mound stage in Dictyostelium discoideum 
NADPH-cytochrome-P450 oxidoreductase (CPR) is a ubiquitous enzyme that belongs to a family of diflavin oxidoreductases and is required for activity of the microsomal cytochrome-P450 monooxygenase system. CPR gene-disruption experiments have demonstrated that absence of this enzyme causes developmental defects both in mouse and insect.
Annotation of the sequenced genome of D. discoideum revealed the presence of three genes (redA, redB and redC) that encode putative members of the diflavin oxidoreductase protein family. redA transcripts are present during growth and early development but then decline, reaching undetectable levels after the mound stage. redB transcripts are present in the same levels during growth and development while redC expression was detected only in vegetative growing cells. We isolated a mutant strain of Dictyostelium discoideum following restriction enzyme-mediated integration (REMI) mutagenesis in which redA was disrupted. This mutant develops only to the mound stage and accumulates a bright yellow pigment. The mound-arrest phenotype is cell-autonomous suggesting that the defect occurs within the cells rather than in intercellular signaling.
The developmental arrest due to disruption of redA implicates CPR in the metabolism of compounds that control cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2257935  PMID: 18218133
5.  Comparison of Insertional RNA Editing in Myxomycetes 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(2):e1002400.
RNA editing describes the process in which individual or short stretches of nucleotides in a messenger or structural RNA are inserted, deleted, or substituted. A high level of RNA editing has been observed in the mitochondrial genome of Physarum polycephalum. The most frequent editing type in Physarum is the insertion of individual Cs. RNA editing is extremely accurate in Physarum; however, little is known about its mechanism. Here, we demonstrate how analyzing two organisms from the Myxomycetes, namely Physarum polycephalum and Didymium iridis, allows us to test hypotheses about the editing mechanism that can not be tested from a single organism alone. First, we show that using the recently determined full transcriptome information of Physarum dramatically improves the accuracy of computational editing site prediction in Didymium. We use this approach to predict genes in the mitochondrial genome of Didymium and identify six new edited genes as well as one new gene that appears unedited. Next we investigate sequence conservation in the vicinity of editing sites between the two organisms in order to identify sites that harbor the information for the location of editing sites based on increased conservation. Our results imply that the information contained within only nine or ten nucleotides on either side of the editing site (a distance previously suggested through experiments) is not enough to locate the editing sites. Finally, we show that the codon position bias in C insertional RNA editing of these two organisms is correlated with the selection pressure on the respective genes thereby directly testing an evolutionary theory on the origin of this codon bias. Beyond revealing interesting properties of insertional RNA editing in Myxomycetes, our work suggests possible approaches to be used when finding sequence motifs for any biological process fails.
Author Summary
RNA is an important biomolecule that is deeply involved in all aspects of molecular biology, such as protein production, gene regulation, and viral replication. However, many significant aspects such as the mechanism of RNA editing are not well understood. RNA editing is the process in which an organism's RNA is modified through the insertion, deletion, or substitution of single or short stretches of nucleotides. The slime mold Physarum polycephalum is a model organism for the study of RNA editing; however, hardly anything is known about its editing machinery. We show that the combination of two organisms (Physarum polycephalum and Didymium iridis) can provide a better understanding of insertional RNA editing than one organism alone. We predict several new edited genes in Didymium. By comparing the sequences of the two organisms in the vicinity of the editing sites we establish minimal requirements for the location of the information by which these editing sites are recognized. Lastly, we directly verify a theory for one of the most striking features of the editing sites, namely their codon bias.
PMCID: PMC3285571  PMID: 22383871
6.  Early activated replication origins within the cell cycle-regulated histone H4 genes in Physarum. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1999;27(10):2091-2098.
It was previously shown that the two members of the cell cycle-regulated histone H4 gene family, H4-1 and H4-2, are replicated at the onset of S phase in the naturally synchronous plasmodium of Physarum polycephalum, suggesting that they are flanked by replication origins. It was further shown that a DNA fragment upstream of the H4-1 gene is able to confer autonomous replication of a plasmid in the budding yeast. In this paper, we re-investigated replication of the unlinked Physarum histone H4 genes by mapping the replication origin of these two loci using alkaline agarose gel and neutral/neutral 2-dimensional agarose gel electrophoreses. We showed that the two replicons containing the H4 genes are simultaneously activated at the onset of S phase and we mapped an efficient, bidirectional replication origin in the vicinity of each gene. Our data demonstrated that the Physarum sequence that functions as an ARS in yeast is not the site of replication initiation at the H4-1 locus. We also observed a stalling of the rightward moving replication fork downstream of the H4-1 gene, in a region where transient topoisomerase II sites were previously mapped. Our results further extend the concept of replication/transcription coupling in Physarum to cell cycle-regulated genes.
PMCID: PMC148428  PMID: 10219081
7.  Amphibian oocyte maturation induced by extracts of Physarum polycephalum in mitosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1988;106(5):1445-1452.
The orderly progression of eukaryotic cells from interphase to mitosis requires the close coordination of various nuclear and cytoplasmic events. Studies from our laboratory and others on animal cells indicate that two activities, one present mainly in mitotic cells and the other exclusively in G1-phase cells, play a pivotal role in the regulation of initiation and completion of mitosis, respectively. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether these activities are expressed in the slime mold Physarum polycephalum in which all the nuclei traverse the cell cycle in natural synchrony. Extracts were prepared from plasmodia in various phases of the cell cycle and tested for their ability to induce germinal vesicle breakdown and chromosome condensation after microinjection into Xenopus laevis oocytes. We found that extract of cells at 10-20 min before metaphase consistently induced germinal vesicle breakdown in oocytes. Preliminary characterization, including purification on a DNA-cellulose affinity column, indicated that the mitotic factors from Physarum were functionally very similar to HeLa mitotic factors. We also identified a number of mitosis-specific antigens in extracts from Physarum plasmodia, similar to those of HeLa cells, using the mitosis-specific monoclonal antibodies MPM-2 and MPM- 7. Interestingly, we also observed an activity in Physarum at 45 min after metaphase (i.e., in early S phase since it has no G1) that is usually present in HeLa cells only during the G1 phase of the cell cycle. These are the first studies to show that maturation-promoting factor activity is present in Physarum during mitosis and is replaced by the G1 factor (or anti-maturation-promoting factor) activity in a postmitotic stage. A comparative study of these factors in this slime mold and in mammalian cells would be extremely valuable in further understanding their function in the regulation of eukaryotic cell cycle and their evolutionary relationship to one another.
PMCID: PMC2115061  PMID: 3286658
8.  DNA replication in Physarum polycephalum: UV photolysis of maturing 5-bromo-deoxyuridine substituted DNA. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1978;5(9):3303-3313.
Combinations of 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) and 3H-deoxyadenosine (3H-DAdo) short pulses were given in the synchronous DNA-replication period of Physarum polycephalum. After a chase period, UV-photolysis products were analyzed on alkaline sucrose gradients. This strategy has allowed the following conclusions. a) at the time of master-initiation of DNA replication, points separated by 1.1-2.2x10(7) daltons of single strand DNA may initiate DNA synthesis. b) among these, only selected groups of replicons actually proceed in DNA replication at this time, while others appear to hold (later temporal sets of replicons). The origins of the ones that proceed in replication are separated from each other by a distance corresponding to 1.1-2.x10(7) daltons. c) regions in actual replication are separated from each other by increasing distances (up to 1.5x10(8) daltons single strand DNA) at later times in S.
PMCID: PMC342250  PMID: 309109
9.  Low rate of replication fork progression lengthens the replication timing of a locus containing an early firing origin 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(17):5763-5774.
Invariance of temporal order of genome replication in eukaryotic cells and its correlation with gene activity has been well-documented. However, recent data suggest a relax control of replication timing. To evaluate replication schedule accuracy, we detailed the replicational organization of the developmentally regulated php locus that we previously found to be lately replicated, even though php gene is highly transcribed in naturally synchronous plasmodia of Physarum. Unexpectedly, bi-dimensional agarose gel electrophoreses of DNA samples prepared at specific time points of S phase showed that replication of the locus actually begins at the onset of S phase but it proceeds through the first half of S phase, so that complete replication of php-containing DNA fragments occurs in late S phase. Origin mapping located replication initiation upstream php coding region. This proximity and rapid fork progression through the coding region result in an early replication of php gene. We demonstrated that afterwards an unusually low fork rate and unidirectional fork pausing prolong complete replication of php locus, and we excluded random replication timing. Importantly, we evidenced that the origin linked to php gene in plasmodium is not fired in amoebae when php expression dramatically reduced, further illustrating replication-transcription coupling in Physarum.
PMCID: PMC2034475  PMID: 17717000
10.  DNA replication in Physarum polycephalum: bidirectional replication of DNA within replicons. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1978;5(3):713-721.
The direction of replication of DNA within replicons of Physarum polycephalum was studied by pulse-labelling with 5-bromouracil-deoxyriboside (BrdUrd) and 3H-adenosine deoxyriboside (dAdo), followed by ultraviolet- (UV) -photolysis and analysis of molecular weights of single strand DNA fragments on alkaline sucrose gradients. Newly made DNA within replicons at all stages of completion is split in two equal halves upon UV irradiation when BrdUrd was given at the time of initiation of DNA synthesis. This shows that replication within replicons of Physarum polycephalum starts at an origin located in the center of each unit, proceeding bidirectionally from this origin.
PMCID: PMC342018  PMID: 565510
11.  Organization of DNA replication in Physarum polycephalum. Attachment of origins of replicons and replication forks to the nuclear matrix. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1983;11(4):1181-1195.
We have investigated the attachment of the DNA to the nuclear matrix during the division cycle of the plasmodial slime mold Physarum polycephalum. The DNA of plasmodia was pulse labelled at different times during the S phase and the label distribution was studied by graded DNase digestion of the matrix-DNA complexes prepared from nuclei isolated by extraction with 2 M NaCl. Pulse labelled DNA was preferentially recovered from the matrix bound residual DNA at any time of the S phase. Label incorporated at the onset of the S phase remained preferentially associated with the matrix during the G2 phase and the subsequent S phase. The occurrence of the pulse label in the matrix associated DNA regions was transiently elevated at the onset of the subsequent S phase. Label incorporated at the end of the S phase was located at DNA regions which, in the G2 phase, were preferentially released from the matrix by DNase treatment. From the results and previously reported data on the distribution of attachment sites it can be concluded that origins of replicons or DNA sites very close to them are attached to the matrix during the entire nuclear cycle. The data further indicate that initiations of DNA replication occur at the same origins in successive S phases. Replicating DNA is bound to the matrix, in addition, by the replication fork or a region close to it. This binding is loosened after completion of the replication.
PMCID: PMC325785  PMID: 6828380
12.  Replication timing of 10 developmentally regulated genes in Physarum polycephalum. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1989;17(2):553-566.
We have tested the hypothesis which stipulates that only early-replicating genes are capable of expression. Within one cell type of Physarum - the plasmodium - we defined the temporal order of replication of 10 genes which were known to be variably expressed in 4 different developmental stages of the Physarum life cycle. Southern analysis of density-labeled, bromodesoxyuridine-substituted DNA reveals that 4 genes presumably inactive within the plasmodium, were not restricted to any temporal compartment of S-phase: 1 is replicated in early S-phase, 2 in mid S-phase and 1 in late S-phase. On the other hand, 4 out of 6 active genes analysed are duplicated early, with the first 30% of the genome. Surprisingly, the two others active genes are replicated late in S-phase. By gene-dosage analysis, based on quantitation of hybridization signals from early and late replicating genes throughout S-phase, we could pinpoint the replication of one of these two genes at a stage where 80-85% of the genome has duplicated. Our results demonstrate that late replication during S-phase does not preclude gene activity.
PMCID: PMC331603  PMID: 2915922
13.  Site-specific initiation of DNA replication within the non-transcribed spacer of Physarum rDNA. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1995;23(9):1447-1453.
Physarum polycephalum rRNA genes are found on extrachromosomal 60 kb linear palindromic DNA molecules. Previous work using electron microscope visualization suggested that these molecules are duplicated from one of four potential replication origins located in the 24 kb central non-transcribed spacer [Vogt and Braun (1977) Eur. J. Biochem., 80, 557-566]. Considering the controversy on the nature of the replication origins in eukaryotic cells, where both site-specific or delocalized initiations have been described, we study here Physarum rDNA replication by two dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis and compare the results to those obtained by electron microscopy. Without the need of cell treatment or enrichment in replication intermediates, we detect hybridization signals corresponding to replicating rDNA fragments throughout the cell cycle, confirming that the synthesis of rDNA molecules is not under the control of S-phase. The patterns of replication intermediates along rDNA minichromosomes are consistent with the existence of four site-specific replication origins, whose localization in the central non-transcribed spacer is in agreement with the electron microscope mapping. It is also shown that, on a few molecules, at least two origins are active simultaneously.
PMCID: PMC306881  PMID: 7784195
14.  USF Binding Sequences from the HS4 Insulator Element Impose Early Replication Timing on a Vertebrate Replicator 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(3):e1001277.
A combination of cis-regulatory elements can impose the formation of an early replicating domain in a naturally late replicating region and might constitute the basic unit of early replicating domains.
The nuclear genomes of vertebrates show a highly organized program of DNA replication where GC-rich isochores are replicated early in S-phase, while AT-rich isochores are late replicating. GC-rich regions are gene dense and are enriched for active transcription, suggesting a connection between gene regulation and replication timing. Insulator elements can organize independent domains of gene transcription and are suitable candidates for being key regulators of replication timing. We have tested the impact of inserting a strong replication origin flanked by the β-globin HS4 insulator on the replication timing of naturally late replicating regions in two different avian cell types, DT40 (lymphoid) and 6C2 (erythroid). We find that the HS4 insulator has the capacity to impose a shift to earlier replication. This shift requires the presence of HS4 on both sides of the replication origin and results in an advance of replication timing of the target locus from the second half of S-phase to the first half when a transcribed gene is positioned nearby. Moreover, we find that the USF transcription factor binding site is the key cis-element inside the HS4 insulator that controls replication timing. Taken together, our data identify a combination of cis-elements that might constitute the basic unit of multi-replicon megabase-sized early domains of DNA replication.
Author Summary
All eukaryotic organisms must duplicate their genome precisely once before cell division. This occurs according to an established temporal program during S-phase (when DNA synthesis takes place) of the cell cycle. In vertebrates, this program is regulated at the level of large chromosomal domains ranging from 200 kb to 2 Mb, but the molecular mechanisms that control the temporal firing order of animal replication origins are not clearly understood. Using the genetically tractable chicken DT40 cell system, we identified a minimal combination of cis-regulatory DNA elements that is able to shift the timing of a naturally “mid-late” replicated region to “mid-early.” This critical group of elements is composed of one strong replication origin flanked by binding sequences for the upstream stimulatory factor (USF) protein. The additional presence of a strongly transcribed gene shifted the region towards an even earlier replication time, suggesting cooperation between cis-elements when establishing temporal programs of replication. We speculate that USF binding sequences cooperate with sites of replication initiation and transcribed genes to promote the establishment of early replicating domains along vertebrate genomes.
PMCID: PMC3295818  PMID: 22412349
15.  Distinct replication-independent and -dependent phases of histone gene expression during the Physarum cell cycle. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1987;7(5):1933-1937.
During the S phase of the cell cycle, histone gene expression and DNA replication are tightly coupled. In mitotically synchronous plasmodia of the myxomycete Physarum polycephalum, which has no G1 phase, histone mRNA synthesis begins in mid-G2 phase. Although histone gene transcription is activated in the absence of significant DNA synthesis, our data demonstrate that histone gene expression became tightly coupled to DNA replication once the S phase began. There was a transition from the replication-independent phase to the replication-dependent phase of histone gene expression. During the first phase, histone mRNA synthesis appears to be under direct cell cycle control; it was not coupled to DNA replication. This allowed a pool of histone mRNA to accumulate in late G2 phase, in anticipation of future demand. The second phase began at the end of mitosis, when the S phase began, and expression became homeostatically coupled to DNA replication. This homeostatic control required continuing protein synthesis, since cycloheximide uncoupled transcription from DNA synthesis. Nuclear run-on assays suggest that in P. polycephalum this coupling occurs at the level of transcription. While histone gene transcription appears to be directly switched on in mid-G2 phase and off at the end of the S phase by cell cycle regulators, only during the S phase was the level of transcription balanced with the rate of DNA synthesis.
PMCID: PMC365298  PMID: 3600651
16.  Selective initiation of replication at origin sequences of the rDNA molecule of Physarum polycephalum using synchronous plasmodial extracts. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1989;17(20):8343-8362.
A cell-free system using synchronous plasmodial extracts initiates replication selectively on the 60 kb rDNA palindrome of Physarum polycephalum. Preferential labeling of rDNA fragments by nuclear extracts, in which elongation is limited, indicates that initiation occurs at two positions corresponding to in vivo origins of replication estimated by electron microscopy. Both nuclear and whole plasmodial extracts initiate selectively within a plasmid, pPHR21, containing one of these origins. In this plasmid bubbles expand bidirectionally and generate DpnI-resistant DNA. Extracts made at prophase or early S phase, times when the nucleolus is disorganized, are most active in pPHR21 replication. Mapping positions of replication bubbles locates the initiation point in a 3.2 kb BstEII fragment at the upstream border of a series of 31 bp repeats 2.4 kb from the initiation point for ribosomal gene transcription.
PMCID: PMC334968  PMID: 2813064
17.  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
18.  Inheritance of extrachromosomal rDNA in Physarum polycephalum. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1983;3(4):635-642.
In the acellular slime mold Physarum polycephalum, the several hundred genes coding for rRNA are located on linear extrachromosomal DNA molecules of a discrete size, 60 kilobases. Each molecule contains two genes that are arranged in a palindromic fashion and separated by a central spacer region. We investigated how rDNA is inherited after meiosis. Two Physarum amoebal strains, each with an rDNA recognizable by its restriction endonuclease cleavage pattern, were mated, the resulting diploid plasmodium was induced to sporulate, and haploid progeny clones were isolated from the germinated spores. The type of rDNA in each was analyzed by blotting hybridization, with cloned rDNA sequences used as probes. This analysis showed that rDNA was inherited in an all-or-nothing fashion; that is, progeny clones contained one or the other parental rDNA type, but not both. However, the rDNA did not segregate in a simple Mendelian way; one rDNA type was inherited more frequently than the other. The same rDNA type was also in excess in the diploid plasmodium before meiosis, and the relative proportions of the two rDNAs changed after continued plasmodial growth. The proportion of the two rDNA types in the population of progeny clones reflected the proportion in the parent plasmodium before meoisis. The rDNAs in many of the progeny clones contained specific deletions of some of the inverted repeat sequences at the central palindromic symmetry axis. To explain the pattern of inheritance of Physarum rDNA, we postulate that a single copy of rDNA is inserted into each spore or is selectively replicated after meiosis.
PMCID: PMC368579  PMID: 6855770
19.  Starvation phase of Physarum polycephalum: characterization of transfer ribonucleic acid. 
We have begun a series of studies designed to characterize gene expression during differentiation in the slime mold Physarum polycephalum. This work concerns the starvation phase of the sporulation sequence and describes some of the quantitative changes which occur in plasmodial constituents during the 3-day starvation period and also describes alterations in the transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) population. The results show that whereas the plasmodial tRNA content decreased by 75% during starvation, concurrent de novo synthesis of tRNA also occurred, and they also show that overall amino acid acceptor activity of the starvation-phase tRNA population did not differ significantly from that found in the growth phase. Of the 19 starvation-phase tRNA families assayed, however, 6 were found to have consistently lower acceptor activities than did their growth-phase counterparts. Reverse-phase (RPC-5) chromatographic analysis of five of those families failed to reveal any major differences between growth- and starvation-phase isoacceptors. The data suggest that the depletion and resynthesis of tRNA during the starvation phase results in a quantitative alteration in the composition of the tRNA population and that the alteration is tRNA family and not tRNA isoacceptor specific.
PMCID: PMC369322  PMID: 6965092
20.  Uridine Diphosphoglucose Pyrophosphorylase Activity and Differentiation in the Acellular Slime Mold Physarum polycephalum 
Journal of Bacteriology  1974;120(3):1151-1157.
The specific activity of uridine 5′-triphosphate:α-d-glucose 1-phosphate uridyltransferase (EC (also called uridine 5′-diphosphate [UDP]-glucose pyrophosphorylase) has been found to increase up to eightfold during spherule formation by the slime mold Physarum polycephalum. The enzyme accumulates during the first 8 to 9 h after initiation of spherule formation, declines to basal levels found in vegetative microplasmodia by 15 h, and is undetectable in completed spherules. Specific activities for UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase in vegetative microplasmodia range from 15 to 30 nmol of UDP-glucose formed per min per mg of protein, whereas accumulated levels during spherule formation can attain a specific activity as high as 125 nmol of UDP-glucose formed per min per mg of protein. The scheduling and extent of accumulation are critically dependent on an early log-phase age of microplasmodia originally induced to form spherules. Spherule induction by 0.2 M or 0.5 M mannitol delays this schedule in a variable and unpredictable manner. Spherule-forming microplasmodia which have accumulated high levels of UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase spontaneously excrete the enzyme when transferred to salts medium containing 0.2 M or 0.5 M mannitol. The excreted enzyme is subsequently destroyed or inactivated. Studies with preferential inhibitors of macromolecular synthesis indicate that accumulation of UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase requires concomitant protein synthesis and prior ribonucleic acid synthesis.
PMCID: PMC245894  PMID: 4474161
21.  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
22.  Replication Origins and Timing of Temporal Replication in Budding Yeast: How to Solve the Conundrum? 
Current Genomics  2010;11(3):199-211.
Similarly to metazoans, the budding yeast Saccharomyces cereviasiae replicates its genome with a defined timing. In this organism, well-defined, site-specific origins, are efficient and fire in almost every round of DNA replication. However, this strategy is neither conserved in the fission yeast Saccharomyces pombe, nor in Xenopus or Drosophila embryos, nor in higher eukaryotes, in which DNA replication initiates asynchronously throughout S phase at random sites. Temporal and spatial controls can contribute to the timing of replication such as Cdk activity, origin localization, epigenetic status or gene expression. However, a debate is going on to answer the question how individual origins are selected to fire in budding yeast. Two opposing theories were proposed: the “replicon paradigm” or “temporal program” vs. the “stochastic firing”. Recent data support the temporal regulation of origin activation, clustering origins into temporal blocks of early and late replication. Contrarily, strong evidences suggest that stochastic processes acting on origins can generate the observed kinetics of replication without requiring a temporal order. In mammalian cells, a spatiotemporal model that accounts for a partially deterministic and partially stochastic order of DNA replication has been proposed. Is this strategy the solution to reconcile the conundrum of having both organized replication timing and stochastic origin firing also for budding yeast? In this review we discuss this possibility in the light of our recent study on the origin activation, suggesting that there might be a stochastic component in the temporal activation of the replication origins, especially under perturbed conditions.
PMCID: PMC2878984  PMID: 21037857
Budding yeast; DNA replication; origins of replication; temporal program; stochastic firing; genomic instability; Clb5; Sic1.
23.  Evidence that the UL84 gene product of human cytomegalovirus is essential for promoting oriLyt-dependent DNA replication and formation of replication compartments in cotransfection assays. 
Journal of Virology  1996;70(11):7398-7413.
The protein products of 11 viral genomic loci cooperate in a transient cotransfection assay to mediate lytic-phase DNA replication of oriLyt, the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) origin of replication. Six of these genes have homology with the well-characterized herpes simplex virus replication genes and encode core replication machinery proteins that are typically essential for DNA synthesis. The remaining five HCMV gene loci, initially referred to as auxiliary components, include several known immediate-early (IE) transcriptional regulatory proteins as well as genes encoding functionally uncharacterized polypeptides. Some or all of the auxiliary components may be necessary in trans to replicate the HCMV oriLyt only because they are required for efficient expression or transactivation of the native early promoters and 3' processing elements included in the genomic clones. Therefore, we reassessed the requirements for the auxiliary components by adding constitutive heterologous promoters and control signals to the coding regions and carrying out transient DpnI replication assays in cotransfected Vero cells. The results revealed that in the presence of the UL69 posttranscriptional activator and the remaining auxiliary polypeptides, UL84 was the only auxiliary component that could not be omitted to obtain oriLyt-dependent DNA replication. Nevertheless, in human diploid fibroblasts, some additional auxiliary loci as well as UL84 were critical. There was also an obligatory requirement for UL84, in cooperation with two other auxiliary factors, UL112-113 and IE2, and the core machinery, to constitute the minimal HCMV proteins necessary to direct oriLyt-dependent DNA amplification. However, the Epstein-Barr virus core replication genes could substitute for the HCMV core genes, and in these circumstances, UL84 alone directed amplification of HCMV oriLyt. Moreover, there was also an absolute requirement for UL84 along with the core and other auxiliary factors for the formation of intranuclear replication compartments as assayed by immunofluorescence in transient DNA cotransfection assays. These compartments were typical of those associated with active viral DNA replication in HCMV-infected cells, they incorporated pulse-labeled bromodeoxyuridine, and their formation was both phosphonoacetic acid sensitive and oriLyt dependent. These results demonstrate that UL84 is obligatory for both intranuclear replication compartment formation and origin-dependent DNA amplification and suggest that it is a key viral component in promoting the initiation of HCMV oriLyt-directed DNA replication.
PMCID: PMC190807  PMID: 8892858
24.  Glom Is a Novel Mitochondrial DNA Packaging Protein in Physarum polycephalum and Causes Intense Chromatin Condensation without Suppressing DNA Functions 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(12):4758-4769.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is packed into highly organized structures called mitochondrial nucleoids (mt-nucleoids). To understand the organization of mtDNA and the overall regulation of its genetic activity within the mt-nucleoids, we identified and characterized a novel mtDNA packaging protein, termed Glom (a protein inducing agglomeration of mitochondrial chromosome), from highly condensed mt-nucleoids of the true slime mold, Physarum polycephalum. This protein could bind to the entire mtDNA and package mtDNA into a highly condensed state in vitro. Immunostaining analysis showed that Glom specifically localized throughout the mt-nucleoid. Deduced amino acid sequence revealed that Glom has a lysine-rich region with proline-rich domain in the N-terminal half and two HMG boxes in C-terminal half. Deletion analysis of Glom revealed that the lysine-rich region was sufficient for the intense mtDNA condensation in vitro. When the recombinant Glom proteins containing the lysine-rich region were expressed in Escherichia coli, the condensed nucleoid structures were observed in E. coli. Such in vivo condensation did not interfere with transcription or replication of E. coli chromosome and the proline-rich domain was essential to keep those genetic activities. The expression of Glom also complemented the E. coli mutant lacking the bacterial histone-like protein HU and the HMG-boxes region of Glom was important for the complementation. Our results suggest that Glom is a new mitochondrial histone-like protein having a property to cause intense DNA condensation without suppressing DNA functions.
PMCID: PMC284781  PMID: 12960433
25.  Preferential binding of S-phase proteins to temporally-characteristic units of replication in Physarum polycephalum. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1977;4(9):3143-3154.
Synchronous plasmodia of Physarum polycephalum were pulse-labeled with 3H-thymidine in early or late portions of the S-phase, and the binding capacity of the replicated DNA for isochronous S-phase plasmodial proteins assessed by nitrocellulose filter binding assay. Replication units replicating during the first one-third of the S-phase preferentially bind cytosol proteins present in plasmodia engaged in early S DNA replication, while late S replicating DNA exhibits a corresponding preferential binding of plasmodial proteins present only in late S plasmodia. Temporally-characteristic nascent replication units were isolated by Hydroxylapatite column chromatography and were found to contain binding sites for isochronous proteins.
PMCID: PMC342640  PMID: 561951

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