In metazoan cells, only a limited number of mini chromosome maintenance (MCM) complexes are fired during S phase, while the majority remain dormant. Several methods have been used to map replication origins, but such methods cannot identify dormant origins. Herein, we determined MCM7-binding sites in human cells using ChIP-Seq, classified them into firing and dormant origins using origin data and analysed their association with various chromatin signatures. Firing origins, but not dormant origins, were well correlated with open chromatin regions and were enriched upstream of transcription start sites (TSSs) of transcribed genes. Aggregation plots of MCM7 signals revealed minimal difference in the efficacy of MCM loading between firing and dormant origins. We also analysed common fragile sites (CFSs) and found a low density of origins at these sites. Nevertheless, firing origins were enriched upstream of the TSSs. Based on the results, we propose a model in which excessive MCMs are actively loaded in a genome-wide manner, irrespective of chromatin status, but only a fraction are passively fired in chromatin areas with an accessible open structure, such as regions upstream of TSSs of transcribed genes. This plasticity in the specification of replication origins may minimize collisions between replication and transcription.
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