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1.  Analysis of stress-induced duplex destabilization (SIDD) properties of replication origins, genes and intergenes in the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:643.
Replication and transcription, the two key functions of DNA, require unwinding of the DNA double helix. It has been shown that replication origins in the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae contain an easily unwound stretch of DNA. We have used a recently developed method for determining the locations and degrees of stress-induced duplex destabilization (SIDD) for all the reported replication origins in the genome of the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe.
We have found that the origins are more susceptible to SIDD as compared to the non-origin intergenic regions (NOIRs) and genes. SIDD analysis of many known origins in other eukaryotes suggests that SIDD is a common property of replication origins. Interestingly, the previously shown deletion-dependent changes in the activities of the origins of the ura4 origin region on chromosome 3 are paralleled by changes in SIDD properties, suggesting SIDD’s role in origin activity. SIDD profiling following in silico deletions of some origins suggests that many of the closely spaced S. pombe origins could be clusters of two or three weak origins, similar to the ura4 origin region.
SIDD appears to be a highly conserved, functionally important property of replication origins in S. pombe and other organisms. The distinctly low SIDD scores of origins and the long range effects of genetic alterations on SIDD properties provide a unique predictive potential to the SIDD analysis. This could be used in exploring different aspects of structural and functional organization of origins including interactions between closely spaced origins.
PMCID: PMC3533806  PMID: 23163955
Replication origins; ARS elements; S. pombe; SIDD
2.  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
3.  GC-Rich DNA Elements Enable Replication Origin Activity in the Methylotrophic Yeast Pichia pastoris 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004169.
The well-studied DNA replication origins of the model budding and fission yeasts are A/T-rich elements. However, unlike their yeast counterparts, both plant and metazoan origins are G/C-rich and are associated with transcription start sites. Here we show that an industrially important methylotrophic budding yeast, Pichia pastoris, simultaneously employs at least two types of replication origins—a G/C-rich type associated with transcription start sites and an A/T-rich type more reminiscent of typical budding and fission yeast origins. We used a suite of massively parallel sequencing tools to map and dissect P. pastoris origins comprehensively, to measure their replication dynamics, and to assay the global positioning of nucleosomes across the genome. Our results suggest that some functional overlap exists between promoter sequences and G/C-rich replication origins in P. pastoris and imply an evolutionary bifurcation of the modes of replication initiation.
Author Summary
Genome duplication in eukaryotes initiates at loci called replication origins. Origins in most budding and fission yeasts are A/T-rich DNA sequences, while metazoan origins are G/C-rich and are often associated with promoters. Here we have globally mapped replication origins and nucleosome positions in an industrially important methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris. We show that P. pastoris has two general classes of origins—A/T-rich origins resembling those of most other yeasts, and a novel, G/C-rich class, that appear more robust and are associated with promoters. P. pastoris is the first known species using two kinds of origins and the first known budding yeast to use a G/C-rich origin motif. Additionally, the G/C-rich motif matches one of the motifs annotated as binding sites of the human Hsf1 transcriptional regulator suggesting that in this species there may be a link between transcriptional regulation and DNA replication initiation.
PMCID: PMC3945215  PMID: 24603708
4.  Association of Fission Yeast Orp1 and Mcm6 Proteins with Chromosomal Replication Origins 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(10):7228-7236.
We have previously shown that replication of fission yeast chromosomes is initiated in distinct regions. Analyses of autonomous replicating sequences have suggested that regions required for replication are very different from those in budding yeast. Here, we present evidence that fission yeast replication origins are specifically associated with proteins that participate in initiation of replication. Most Orp1p, a putative subunit of the fission yeast origin recognition complex (ORC), was found to be associated with chromatin-enriched insoluble components throughout the cell cycle. In contrast, the minichromosome maintenance (Mcm) proteins, SpMcm2p and SpMcm6p, encoded by the nda1+/cdc19+ and mis5+ genes, respectively, were associated with chromatin DNA only during the G1 and S phases. Immunostaining of spread nuclei showed SpMcm6p to be localized at discrete foci on chromatin during the G1 and S phases. A chromatin immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated that Orp1p was preferentially localized at the ars2004 and ars3002 origins of the chromosome throughout the cell cycle, while SpMcm6p was associated with these origins only in the G1 and S phases. Both Orp1p and SpMcm6p were associated with a 1-kb region that contains elements required for autonomous replication of ars2004. The results suggest that the fission yeast ORC specifically interacts with chromosomal replication origins and that Mcm proteins are loaded onto the origins to play a role in initiation of replication.
PMCID: PMC84715  PMID: 10490657
5.  Multiple Orientation-Dependent, Synergistically Interacting, Similar Domains in the Ribosomal DNA Replication Origin of the Fission Yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(12):7294-7303.
Previous investigations have shown that the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, has DNA replication origins (500 to 1500 bp) that are larger than those in the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (100 to 150 bp). Deletion and linker substitution analyses of two fission yeast origins revealed that they contain multiple important regions with AT-rich asymmetric (abundant A residues in one strand and T residues in the complementary strand) sequence motifs. In this work we present the characterization of a third fission yeast replication origin, ars3001, which is relatively small (∼570 bp) and responsible for replication of ribosomal DNA. Like previously studied fission yeast origins, ars3001 contains multiple important regions. The three most important of these regions resemble each other in several ways: each region is essential for origin function and is at least partially orientation dependent, each region contains similar clusters of A+T-rich asymmetric sequences, and the regions can partially substitute for each other. These observations suggest that ars3001 function requires synergistic interactions between domains binding similar proteins. It is likely that this requirement extends to other fission yeast origins, explaining why such origins are larger than those of budding yeast.
PMCID: PMC109311  PMID: 9819416
6.  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
7.  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
8.  Fission Yeast Homologs of Human CENP-B Have Redundant Functions Affecting Cell Growth and Chromosome Segregation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(8):2852-2864.
Two functionally important DNA sequence elements in centromeres of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe are the centromeric central core and the K-type repeat. Both of these DNA elements show internal functional redundancy that is not correlated with a conserved DNA sequence. Specific, but degenerate, sequences in these elements are bound in vitro by the S. pombe DNA-binding proteins Abp1p (also called Cbp1p) and Cbhp, which are related to the mammalian centromere DNA-binding protein CENP-B. In this study, we determined that Abp1p binds to at least one of its target sequences within S. pombe centromere II central core (cc2) DNA with an affinity (Ks = 7 × 109 M−1) higher than those of other known centromere DNA-binding proteins for their cognate targets. In vivo, epitope-tagged Cbhp associated with centromeric K repeat chromatin, as well as with noncentromeric regions. Like abp1+/cbp1+, we found that cbh+ is not essential in fission yeast, but a strain carrying deletions of both genes (Δabp1 Δcbh) is extremely compromised in growth rate and morphology and missegregates chromosomes at very high frequency. The synergism between the two null mutations suggests that these proteins perform redundant functions in S. pombe chromosome segregation. In vitro assays with cell extracts with these proteins depleted allowed the specific assignments of several binding sites for them within cc2 and the K-type repeat. Redundancy observed at the centromere DNA level appears to be reflected at the protein level, as no single member of the CENP-B-related protein family is essential for proper chromosome segregation in fission yeast. The relevance of these findings to mammalian centromeres is discussed.
PMCID: PMC85508  PMID: 10733588
9.  Functional analysis of a replication origin from Saccharomyces cerevisiae: identification of a new replication enhancer. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1997;25(24):5057-5064.
Yeast replication origins have a modular arrangement of essential DNA sequences containing the ARS consensus sequence (ACS) flanked by auxiliary DNA elements which stimulate origin function. One of the auxiliary elements identified at several origins is a DNA replication enhancer that binds the Abf1p protein. We have isolated an ARS sequence from Saccharomyces cerevisiae based on its ability to bind Abf1p. Here we present a detailed molecular dissection of this ARS, designated ARS 1501, and we demonstrate that it functions as a genomic replication origin on chromosome XV . Mutagenesis of the Abf1p DNA-binding sites revealed that these sequences did not contribute significantly to ARS function. Instead, a new DNA element important for replication, designated REN1501, has been located 5' to the T-rich strand of the ACS. We show that REN1501 functions in either orientation and at variable distances from the ACS, defining this element as a DNA replication enhancer. Most significantly, point mutations within this element decreased the stability of plasmids bearing ARS 1501, suggesting that REN1501 binds a protein important for replication initiation. Only three elements found at origins are known to specifically bind proteins. These include the ARS essential sequences and the Abf1p and Rap1p DNA-binding sites. We show that the function of REN1501 at the origin cannot be replaced by a Rap1p DNA-binding site or a site that binds the transcriptional factor Gal4p and can only be partially substituted for by an Abf1p recognition sequence. This implies that the role of the REN1501 element at the ARS 1501 origin is specific, and suggest that the frequency of origin firing in eukaryotic cells may be regulated by origin-specific enhancers.
PMCID: PMC147147  PMID: 9396816
10.  The essential genome of a bacterium 
This study reports the essential Caulobacter genome at 8 bp resolution determined by saturated transposon mutagenesis and high-throughput sequencing. This strategy is applicable to full genome essentiality studies in a broad class of bacterial species.
The essential Caulobacter genome was determined at 8 bp resolution using hyper-saturated transposon mutagenesis coupled with high-throughput sequencing.Essential protein-coding sequences comprise 90% of the essential genome; the remaining 10% comprising essential non-coding RNA sequences, gene regulatory elements and essential genome replication features.Of the 3876 annotated open reading frames (ORFs), 480 (12.4%) were essential ORFs, 3240 (83.6%) were non-essential ORFs and 156 (4.0%) were ORFs that severely impacted fitness when mutated.The essential elements are preferentially positioned near the origin and terminus of the Caulobacter chromosome.This high-resolution strategy is applicable to high-throughput, full genome essentiality studies and large-scale genetic perturbation experiments in a broad class of bacterial species.
The regulatory events that control polar differentiation and cell-cycle progression in the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus are highly integrated, and they have to occur in the proper order (McAdams and Shapiro, 2011). Components of the core regulatory circuit are largely known. Full discovery of its essential genome, including non-coding, regulatory and coding elements, is a prerequisite for understanding the complete regulatory network of this bacterial cell. We have identified all the essential coding and non-coding elements of the Caulobacter chromosome using a hyper-saturated transposon mutagenesis strategy that is scalable and can be readily extended to obtain rapid and accurate identification of the essential genome elements of any sequenced bacterial species at a resolution of a few base pairs.
We engineered a Tn5 derivative transposon (Tn5Pxyl) that carries at one end an inducible outward pointing Pxyl promoter (Christen et al, 2010). We showed that this transposon construct inserts into the genome randomly where it can activate or disrupt transcription at the site of integration, depending on the insertion orientation. DNA from hundred of thousands of transposon insertion sites reading outward into flanking genomic regions was parallel PCR amplified and sequenced by Illumina paired-end sequencing to locate the insertion site in each mutant strain (Figure 1). A single sequencing run on DNA from a mutagenized cell population yielded 118 million raw sequencing reads. Of these, >90 million (>80%) read outward from the transposon element into adjacent genomic DNA regions and the insertion site could be mapped with single nucleotide resolution. This yielded the location and orientation of 428 735 independent transposon insertions in the 4-Mbp Caulobacter genome.
Within non-coding sequences of the Caulobacter genome, we detected 130 non-disruptable DNA segments between 90 and 393 bp long in addition to all essential promoter elements. Among 27 previously identified and validated sRNAs (Landt et al, 2008), three were contained within non-disruptable DNA segments and another three were partially disruptable, that is, insertions caused a notable growth defect. Two additional small RNAs found to be essential are the transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA) and the ribozyme RNAseP (Landt et al, 2008). In addition to the 8 non-disruptable sRNAs, 29 out of the 130 intergenic essential non-coding sequences contained non-redundant tRNA genes; duplicated tRNA genes were non-essential. We also identified two non-disruptable DNA segments within the chromosomal origin of replication. Thus, we resolved essential non-coding RNAs, tRNAs and essential replication elements within the origin region of the chromosome. An additional 90 non-disruptable small genome elements of currently unknown function were identified. Eighteen of these are conserved in at least one closely related species. Only 2 could encode a protein of over 50 amino acids.
For each of the 3876 annotated open reading frames (ORFs), we analyzed the distribution, orientation, and genetic context of transposon insertions. There are 480 essential ORFs and 3240 non-essential ORFs. In addition, there were 156 ORFs that severely impacted fitness when mutated. The 8-bp resolution allowed a dissection of the essential and non-essential regions of the coding sequences. Sixty ORFs had transposon insertions within a significant portion of their 3′ region but lacked insertions in the essential 5′ coding region, allowing the identification of non-essential protein segments. For example, transposon insertions in the essential cell-cycle regulatory gene divL, a tyrosine kinase, showed that the last 204 C-terminal amino acids did not impact viability, confirming previous reports that the C-terminal ATPase domain of DivL is dispensable for viability (Reisinger et al, 2007; Iniesta et al, 2010). In addition, we found that 30 out of 480 (6.3%) of the essential ORFs appear to be shorter than the annotated ORF, suggesting that these are probably mis-annotated.
Among the 480 ORFs essential for growth on rich media, there were 10 essential transcriptional regulatory proteins, including 5 previously identified cell-cycle regulators (McAdams and Shapiro, 2003; Holtzendorff et al, 2004; Collier and Shapiro, 2007; Gora et al, 2010; Tan et al, 2010) and 5 uncharacterized predicted transcription factors. In addition, two RNA polymerase sigma factors RpoH and RpoD, as well as the anti-sigma factor ChrR, which mitigates rpoE-dependent stress response under physiological growth conditions (Lourenco and Gomes, 2009), were also found to be essential. Thus, a set of 10 transcription factors, 2 RNA polymerase sigma factors and 1 anti-sigma factor are the core essential transcriptional regulators for growth on rich media. To further characterize the core components of the Caulobacter cell-cycle control network, we identified all essential regulatory sequences and operon transcripts. Altogether, the 480 essential protein-coding and 37 essential RNA-coding Caulobacter genes are organized into operons such that 402 individual promoter regions are sufficient to regulate their expression. Of these 402 essential promoters, the transcription start sites (TSSs) of 105 were previously identified (McGrath et al, 2007).
The essential genome features are non-uniformly distributed on the Caulobacter genome and enriched near the origin and the terminus regions. In contrast, the chromosomal positions of the published E. coli essential coding sequences (Rocha, 2004) are preferentially located at either side of the origin (Figure 4A). This indicates that there are selective pressures on chromosomal positioning of some essential elements (Figure 4A).
The strategy described in this report could be readily extended to quickly determine the essential genome for a large class of bacterial species.
Caulobacter crescentus is a model organism for the integrated circuitry that runs a bacterial cell cycle. Full discovery of its essential genome, including non-coding, regulatory and coding elements, is a prerequisite for understanding the complete regulatory network of a bacterial cell. Using hyper-saturated transposon mutagenesis coupled with high-throughput sequencing, we determined the essential Caulobacter genome at 8 bp resolution, including 1012 essential genome features: 480 ORFs, 402 regulatory sequences and 130 non-coding elements, including 90 intergenic segments of unknown function. The essential transcriptional circuitry for growth on rich media includes 10 transcription factors, 2 RNA polymerase sigma factors and 1 anti-sigma factor. We identified all essential promoter elements for the cell cycle-regulated genes. The essential elements are preferentially positioned near the origin and terminus of the chromosome. The high-resolution strategy used here is applicable to high-throughput, full genome essentiality studies and large-scale genetic perturbation experiments in a broad class of bacterial species.
PMCID: PMC3202797  PMID: 21878915
functional genomics; next-generation sequencing; systems biology; transposon mutagenesis
11.  Activation of Silent Replication Origins at Autonomously Replicating Sequence Elements near the HML Locus in Budding Yeast 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(9):6098-6109.
In the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, replicators can function outside the chromosome as autonomously replicating sequence (ARS) elements; however, within chromosome III, certain ARSs near the transcriptionally silent HML locus show no replication origin activity. Two of these ARSs comprise the transcriptional silencers E (ARS301) and I (ARS302). Another, ARS303, resides between HML and the CHA1 gene, and its function is not known. Here we further localized and characterized ARS303 and in the process discovered a new ARS, ARS320. Both ARS303 and ARS320 are competent as chromosomal replication origins since origin activity was seen when they were inserted at a different position in chromosome III. However, at their native locations, where the two ARSs are in a cluster with ARS302, the I silencer, no replication origin activity was detected regardless of yeast mating type, special growth conditions that induce the transcriptionally repressed CHA1 gene, trans-acting mutations that abrogate transcriptional silencing at HML (sir3, orc5), or cis-acting mutations that delete the E and I silencers containing ARS elements. These results suggest that, for the HML ARS cluster (ARS303, ARS320, and ARS302), inactivity of origins is independent of local transcriptional silencing, even though origins and silencers share key cis- and trans-acting components. Surprisingly, deletion of active replication origins located 25 kb (ORI305) and 59 kb (ORI306) away led to detection of replication origin function at the HML ARS cluster, as well as at ARS301, the E silencer. Thus, replication origin silencing at HML ARSs is mediated by active replication origins residing at long distances from HML in the chromosome. The distal active origins are known to fire early in S phase, and we propose that their inactivation delays replication fork arrival at HML, providing additional time for HML ARSs to fire as origins.
PMCID: PMC84529  PMID: 10454557
12.  Checkpoint independence of most DNA replication origins in fission yeast 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:112.
In budding yeast, the replication checkpoint slows progress through S phase by inhibiting replication origin firing. In mammals, the replication checkpoint inhibits both origin firing and replication fork movement. To find out which strategy is employed in the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, we used microarrays to investigate the use of origins by wild-type and checkpoint-mutant strains in the presence of hydroxyurea (HU), which limits the pool of deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs) and activates the replication checkpoint. The checkpoint-mutant cells carried deletions either of rad3 (which encodes the fission yeast homologue of ATR) or cds1 (which encodes the fission yeast homologue of Chk2).
Our microarray results proved to be largely consistent with those independently obtained and recently published by three other laboratories. However, we were able to reconcile differences between the previous studies regarding the extent to which fission yeast replication origins are affected by the replication checkpoint. We found (consistent with the three previous studies after appropriate interpretation) that, in surprising contrast to budding yeast, most fission yeast origins, including both early- and late-firing origins, are not significantly affected by checkpoint mutations during replication in the presence of HU. A few origins (~3%) behaved like those in budding yeast: they replicated earlier in the checkpoint mutants than in wild type. These were located primarily in the heterochromatic subtelomeric regions of chromosomes 1 and 2. Indeed, the subtelomeric regions defined by the strongest checkpoint restraint correspond precisely to previously mapped subtelomeric heterochromatin. This observation implies that subtelomeric heterochromatin in fission yeast differs from heterochromatin at centromeres, in the mating type region, and in ribosomal DNA, since these regions replicated at least as efficiently in wild-type cells as in checkpoint-mutant cells.
The fact that ~97% of fission yeast replication origins – both early and late – are not significantly affected by replication checkpoint mutations in HU-treated cells suggests that (i) most late-firing origins are restrained from firing in HU-treated cells by at least one checkpoint-independent mechanism, and (ii) checkpoint-dependent slowing of S phase in fission yeast when DNA is damaged may be accomplished primarily by the slowing of replication forks.
PMCID: PMC2235891  PMID: 18093330
13.  High-resolution analysis of four efficient yeast replication origins reveals new insights into the ORC and putative MCM binding elements 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(15):6523-6535.
In budding yeast, the eukaryotic initiator protein ORC (origin recognition complex) binds to a bipartite sequence consisting of an 11 bp ACS element and an adjacent B1 element. However, the genome contains many more matches to this consensus than actually bind ORC or function as origins in vivo. Although ORC-dependent loading of the replicative MCM helicase at origins is enhanced by a distal B2 element, less is known about this element. Here, we analyzed four highly active origins (ARS309, ARS319, ARS606 and ARS607) by linker scanning mutagenesis and found that sequences adjacent to the ACS contributed substantially to origin activity and ORC binding. Using the sequences of four additional B2 elements we generated a B2 multiple sequence alignment and identified a shared, degenerate 8 bp sequence that was enriched within 228 known origins. In addition, our high-resolution analysis revealed that not all origins exist within nucleosome free regions: a class of Sir2-regulated origins has a stably positioned nucleosome overlapping or near B2. This study illustrates the conserved yet flexible nature of yeast origin architecture to promote ORC binding and origin activity, and helps explain why a strong match to the ORC binding site is insufficient to identify origins within the genome.
PMCID: PMC3159467  PMID: 21558171
14.  Control of replication initiation by the Sum1/Rfm1/Hst1 histone deacetylase 
BMC Molecular Biology  2008;9:100.
Replication initiation at origins of replication in the yeast genome takes place on chromatin as a template, raising the question how histone modifications, for instance histone acetylation, influence origin firing. Initiation requires binding of the replication initiator, the Origin Recognition Complex (ORC), to a consensus sequence within origins. In addition, other proteins bind to recognition sites in the vicinity of ORC and support initiation. In previous work, we identified Sum1 as an origin-binding protein that contributes to efficient replication initiation. Sum1 is part of the Sum1/Rfm1/Hst1 complex that represses meiotic genes during vegetative growth via histone deacetylation by the histone deacetylase (HDAC) Hst1.
In this study, we investigated how Sum1 affected replication initiation. We found that it functioned in initiation as a component of the Sum1/Rfm1/Hst1 complex, implying a role for histone deacetylation in origin activity. We identified several origins in the yeast genome whose activity depended on both Sum1 and Hst1. Importantly, sum1Δ or hst1Δ caused a significant increase in histone H4 lysine 5 (H4 K5) acetylation levels, but not other H4 acetylation sites, at those origins. Furthermore, mutation of lysines to glutamines in the H4 tail, which imitates the constantly acetylated state, resulted in a reduction of origin activity comparable to that in the absence of Hst1, showing that deacetylation of H4 was important for full initiation capacity of these origins.
Taken together, our results demonstrate a role for histone deacetylation in origin activity and reveal a novel aspect of origin regulation by chromatin. These results suggest recruitment of the Sum1/Rfm1/Hst1 complex to a number of yeast origins, where Hst1 deacetylated H4 K5.
PMCID: PMC2585588  PMID: 18990212
15.  A Meier-Gorlin syndrome mutation in a conserved C-terminal helix of Orc6 impedes origin recognition complex formation 
eLife  2013;2:e00882.
In eukaryotes, DNA replication requires the origin recognition complex (ORC), a six-subunit assembly that promotes replisome formation on chromosomal origins. Despite extant homology between certain subunits, the degree of structural and organizational overlap between budding yeast and metazoan ORC has been unclear. Using 3D electron microscopy, we determined the subunit organization of metazoan ORC, revealing that it adopts a global architecture very similar to the budding yeast complex. Bioinformatic analysis extends this conservation to Orc6, a subunit of somewhat enigmatic function. Unexpectedly, a mutation in the Orc6 C-terminus linked to Meier-Gorlin syndrome, a dwarfism disorder, impedes proper recruitment of Orc6 into ORC; biochemical studies reveal that this region of Orc6 associates with a previously uncharacterized domain of Orc3 and is required for ORC function and MCM2–7 loading in vivo. Together, our results suggest that Meier-Gorlin syndrome mutations in Orc6 impair the formation of ORC hexamers, interfering with appropriate ORC functions.
eLife digest
Cell division is essential for organisms to be able to grow, to repair tissues and to proliferate. However, cells can only divide once they have successfully replicated their DNA. Many different molecules are involved in these two processes, including a large multi-protein assembly called the origin recognition complex that helps to start the process of DNA replication.
This complex contains six proteins but relatively little is known about its structure. It is also unclear how much origin recognition complexes (ORCs) differ between species. Now, Bleichert et al. have found a way to stabilize a specific conformation of Drosophila ORC, and have gone on to determine its structure at a higher resolution than was previously possible.
This approach revealed that the arrangement of protein subunits in Drosophila ORC is similar to that found in yeast ORC. Most of the ORC subunits have similar amino acid sequences in both species. However, the Orc6 subunit was regarded a notable exception for a long time, with the yeast and Drosophila versions of this subunit having different sequences of amino acids. Bleichert et al. show that the Orc6 subunits actually have important similarities, both in sequence and in function. In particular, the C-terminus of the Orc6 protein contains similar amino acids in both yeast and Drosophila. Moreover, it performs the same role—binding to another subunit—in both yeast and Drosophila.
As well as being important for cell division, human ORC has been implicated in Meier-Gorlin syndrome, a type of dwarfism. Mutations in three of the six ORC subunits, including Orc6, have been found in people with Meier-Gorlin syndrome. The mutations in Orc6 that are associated with this syndrome are in the C-terminus, which suggests that some symptoms of the syndrome may be caused by DNA replication not being initiated correctly. Consistent with this idea, Bleichert et al. show that the introduction of the Meier-Gorlin syndrome mutation into Orc6 prevents this subunit from binding to the rest of ORC, and similar mutations do not support DNA replication in in vivo experiments. These results should increase our understanding of the function of Orc6 and its role in Meier-Gorlin syndrome, and also provide new insights into the changes in ORC architecture that have occurred during evolution.
PMCID: PMC3791464  PMID: 24137536
ORC; Meier-Gorlin syndrome; DNA replication; origin recognition complex; origin licensing; D. melanogaster; Human; S. cerevisiae
16.  High-efficiency transformation of Pichia stipitis based on its URA3 gene and a homologous autonomous replication sequence, ARS2. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1994;60(12):4245-4254.
This paper describes the first high-efficiency transformation system for the xylose-fermenting yeast Pichia stipitis. The system includes integrating and autonomously replicating plasmids based on the gene for orotidine-5'-phosphate decarboxylase (URA3) and an autonomous replicating sequence (ARS) element (ARS2) isolated from P. stipitis CBS 6054. Ura- auxotrophs were obtained by selecting for resistance to 5-fluoroorotic acid and were identified as ura3 mutants by transformation with P. stipitis URA3. P. stipitis URA3 was cloned by its homology to Saccharomyces cerevisiae URA3, with which it is 69% identical in the coding region. P. stipitis ARS elements were cloned functionally through plasmid rescue. These sequences confer autonomous replication when cloned into vectors bearing the P. stipitis URA3 gene. P. stipitis ARS2 has features similar to those of the consensus ARS of S. cerevisiae and other ARS elements. Circular plasmids bearing the P. stipitis URA3 gene with various amounts of flanking sequences produced 600 to 8,600 Ura+ transformants per micrograms of DNA by electroporation. Most transformants obtained with circular vectors arose without integration of vector sequences. One vector yielded 5,200 to 12,500 Ura+ transformants per micrograms of DNA after it was linearized at various restriction enzyme sites within the P. stipitis URA3 insert. Transformants arising from linearized vectors produced stable integrants, and integration events were site specific for the genomic ura3 in 20% of the transformants examined. Plasmids bearing the P. stipitis URA3 gene and ARS2 element produced more than 30,000 transformants per micrograms of plasmid DNA. Autonomously replicating plasmids were stable for at least 50 generations in selection medium and were present at an average of 10 copies per nucleus.
PMCID: PMC201976  PMID: 7811063
17.  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
18.  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
19.  Functional dissection of the phosphorylated termini of fission yeast DNA topoisomerase II 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1992;119(5):1023-1036.
Fission Yeast DNA topoisomerase II (165 kD) consists of an enzymatically active 125-kD core, approximately 10-kD NH2-terminal and 30-kD COOH-terminal domains. The question addressed in the present study is what is the role of the topo II termini. Although deletion of either the NH2 or the COOH terminus is viable, deletion of both termini is lethal; the termini share an essential role for viability. We show here that topo II phosphorylation sites are localized in the terminal domains, but dephosphorylated topo II is still active. The topo II terminal sequences are required for nuclear localization; topo II double terminal deletion mutants are deficient for nuclear targeting, whereas wild-type and single deletion mutant topo IIs are transported into the nucleus with different efficiencies. Functional subdomains in the NH2 terminus are further dissected; we identified a 15 amino acid nuclear localization sequence (NLS) which is essential for viability and nuclear localization when the COOH terminus is deleted. This NLS could be substituted with SV-40 large T-antigen NLS. Two other functional subdomains were found; a non-essential acidic stretch which is phosphorylated and apparently enhances the nuclear localization and an essential hydrophilic stretch of unknown function. Motifs similar to these three NH2-terminal subdomains are also found in the COOH terminus. Our results support the possibility that phosphorylation of topo II does not play an essential role in fission yeast.
PMCID: PMC2289710  PMID: 1332977
20.  The centromeric K-type repeat and the central core are together sufficient to establish a functional Schizosaccharomyces pombe centromere. 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1994;5(7):747-761.
The DNA requirements for centromere function in fission yeast have been investigated using a minichromosome assay system. Critical elements of Schizosaccharomyces pombe centromeric DNA are portions of the centromeric central core and sequences within a 2.1-kilobase segment found on all three chromosomes as part of the K-type (K/K"/dg) centromeric repeat. The S. pombe centromeric central core contains DNA sequences that appear functionally redundant, and the inverted repeat motif that flanks the central core in all native fission yeast centromeres is not essential for centromere function in circular minichromosomes. Tandem copies of centromeric repeat K", in conjunction with the central core, exert an additive effect on centromere function, increasing minichromosome mitotic stability with each additional copy. Centromeric repeats B and L, however, and parts of the central core and its core-associated repeat are dispensable and cannot substitute for K-type sequences. Several specific protein binding sites have been identified within the centromeric K-type repeat, consistent with a recently proposed model for centromere/kinetochore function in S. pombe.
PMCID: PMC301093  PMID: 7812044
21.  Multiple subelements within the polyomavirus enhancer function synergistically to activate DNA replication. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1988;8(11):5000-5015.
The polyomavirus origin for DNA replication comprises at least two essential, but functionally distinct, cis-acting components. One of these, the origin core, is required only for DNA replication. It includes binding sites for large T antigen and the origin of bidirectional DNA replication. The other component is required for both transcription and DNA replication and is represented by two functionally redundant regions, alpha and beta, which are elements of the polyomavirus enhancer. Whereas either enhancer element will activate DNA replication, both enhancer elements are required to constitute a functional enhancer of transcription. To identify the sequences that make up each enhancer element, we have subjected them separately to in vitro mutagenesis and measured their capacity to activate replication in cis of the origin core in MOP-8 cells, which provide all trans-acting replicative functions including large T antigen. The results reveal that the beta enhancer element is composed of three subelements, two auxiliary subelements, and a core subelement. The core subelement independently activated DNA replication, albeit poorly. The auxiliary subelements, which were inactive on their own, acted synergistically with the core subelement to increase its activity. Interestingly, dimers of the beta core subelement functioned as well as the combination of a beta auxiliary subelement and a core subelement, suggesting that the subelements are functionally equivalent. The alpha enhancer element is organized similarly; it too comprises an auxiliary subelement and a core subelement. These results lead us to suggest that the polyomavirus enhancer comprises two levels of organization; two or more enhancer elements form an enhancer, and two or more subelements make up an enhancer element. The subelements share few sequences and serve as binding sites for distinct cellular factors. It appears, therefore, that a number of different cellular proteins function cooperatively to activate polyomavirus DNA replication by a common mechanism.
PMCID: PMC365594  PMID: 2850472
22.  Dissecting the fission yeast regulatory network reveals phase-specific control elements of its cell cycle 
BMC Systems Biology  2009;3:93.
Fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are among the original model organisms in the study of the cell-division cycle. Unlike budding yeast, no large-scale regulatory network has been constructed for fission yeast. It has only been partially characterized. As a result, important regulatory cascades in budding yeast have no known or complete counterpart in fission yeast.
By integrating genome-wide data from multiple time course cell cycle microarray experiments we reconstructed a gene regulatory network. Based on the network, we discovered in addition to previously known regulatory hubs in M phase, a new putative regulatory hub in the form of the HMG box transcription factor SPBC19G7.04. Further, we inferred periodic activities of several less known transcription factors over the course of the cell cycle, identified over 500 putative regulatory targets and detected many new phase-specific and conserved cis-regulatory motifs. In particular, we show that SPBC19G7.04 has highly significant periodic activity that peaks in early M phase, which is coordinated with the late G2 activity of the forkhead transcription factor fkh2. Finally, using an enhanced Bayesian algorithm to co-cluster the expression data, we obtained 31 clusters of co-regulated genes 1) which constitute regulatory modules from different phases of the cell cycle, 2) whose phase order is coherent across the 10 time course experiments, and 3) which lead to identification of phase-specific control elements at both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels in S. pombe. In particular, the ribosome biogenesis clusters expressed in G2 phase reveal new, highly conserved RNA motifs.
Using a systems-level analysis of the phase-specific nature of the S. pombe cell cycle gene regulation, we have provided new testable evidence for post-transcriptional regulation in the G2 phase of the fission yeast cell cycle. Based on this comprehensive gene regulatory network, we demonstrated how one can generate and investigate plausible hypotheses on fission yeast cell cycle regulation which can potentially be explored experimentally.
PMCID: PMC2758837  PMID: 19758441
23.  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
24.  The centromere enhancer mediates centromere activation in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1997;17(6):3305-3314.
The centromere enhancer is a functionally important DNA region within the Schizosaccharomyces pombe centromeric K-type repeat. We have previously shown that addition of the enhancer and cen2 centromeric central core to a circular minichromosome is sufficient to impart appreciable centromere function. A more detailed analysis of the enhancer shows that it is dispensable for centromere function in a cen1-derived minichromosome containing the central core and the remainder of the K-type repeat, indicating that the critical centromeric K-type repeat, like the central core, is characterized by functional redundancy. The centromeric enhancer is required, however, for a central core-carrying minichromosome to exhibit immediate centromere activity when the circular DNA is introduced via transformation into S. pombe. This immediate activation is probably a consequence of a centromere-targeted epigenetic system that governs the chromatin architecture of the region. Moreover, our studies show that two entirely different DNA sequences, consisting of elements derived from two native centromeres, can display centromere function. An S. pombe CENP-B-like protein, Abp1p/Cbp1p, which is required for proper chromosome segregation in vivo, binds in vitro to sites within and adjacent to the modular centromere enhancer, as well as within the centromeric central cores. These results provide direct evidence in fission yeast of a model, similar to one proposed for mammalian systems, whereby no specific sequence is necessary for centromere function but certain classes of sequences are competent to build the appropriate chromatin foundation upon which the centromere/kinetochore can be formed and activated.
PMCID: PMC232183  PMID: 9154829
25.  Clustered Adenine/Thymine Stretches Are Essential for Function of a Fission Yeast Replication Origin 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(10):6699-6709.
We have determined functional elements required for autonomous replication of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe ars2004 that acts as an intrinsic chromosomal replication origin. Internal deletion analysis of a 940-bp fragment (ars2004M) showed three regions, I to III, to be required for autonomously replicating sequence (ARS) activity. Eight-base-pair substitutions in the 40-bp region I, composed of arrays of adenines on a DNA strand, resulted in a great reduction of ARS activity. Substitutions of region I with synthetic sequences showed that no specific sequence but rather repeats of three or more consecutive adenines or thymines, without interruption by guanine or cytosine, are required for the ARS activity. The 65-bp region III contains 11 repeats of the AAAAT sequence, while the 165-bp region II has short adenine or thymine stretches and a guanine- and cytosine-rich region which enhances ARS activity. All three regions in ars2004M can be replaced with 40-bp poly(dA/dT) fragments without reduction of ARS activity. Although spacer regions in the ars2004M enhance ARS activity, all could be deleted when an 40-bp poly(dA/dT) fragment was added in place of region I. Our results suggest that the origin activity of fission yeast replicators depends on the number of adenine/thymine stretches, the extent of their clustering, and presence of certain replication-enhancing elements.
PMCID: PMC84658  PMID: 10490609

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