The DNA replication protein DnaA in Escherichia coli constructs higher-order complexes on the origin, oriC, to unwind this region. DnaB helicase is loaded onto unwound oriC via interactions with the DnaC loader and the DnaA complex. The DnaB–DnaC complex is recruited to the DnaA complex via stable binding of DnaB to DnaA domain I. The DnaB–DnaC complex is then directed to unwound oriC via a weak interaction between DnaB and DnaA domain III. Previously, we showed that Phe46 in DnaA domain I binds to DnaB. Here, we searched for the DnaA domain I–binding site in DnaB. The DnaB L160A variant was impaired in binding to DnaA complex on oriC but retained its DnaC-binding and helicase activities. DnaC binding moderately stimulated DnaA binding of DnaB L160A, and loading of DnaB L160A onto oriC was consistently and moderately inhibited. In a helicase assay with partly single-stranded DNA bearing a DnaA-binding site, DnaA stimulated DnaB loading, which was strongly inhibited in DnaB L160A even in the presence of DnaC. DnaB L160A was functionally impaired in vivo. On the basis of these findings, we propose that DnaB Leu160 interacts with DnaA domain I Phe46. DnaB Leu160 is exposed on the lateral surface of the N-terminal domain, which can explain unobstructed interactions of DnaA domain I–bound DnaB with DnaC, DnaG primase, and DnaA domain III. We propose a probable structure for the DnaA–DnaB–DnaC complex, which could be relevant to the process of DnaB loading onto oriC.
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