In Escherichia coli, initiation of chromosomal replication is activated by a nucleoprotein complex formed primarily between the DnaA protein and oriC (replication origin) DNA. After replicational initiation, this complex has to be inactivated in order to repress the appearance of initiation events until the next scheduled round of initiation, Studies of the mechanisms responsible for this repression have recently revealed direct coupling between these mechanisms and key elements of the replication process, suggesting that feedback-type regulatory loops exist between the factors implicated in initiation and the elements yielded by the replication process. The loading of the ring-shaped β-subunit of DNA polymerase III onto DNA plays a key role in the inactivation of the DnaA protein. Duplication of oriC DNA results in hemimethylated DNA, which is inert for reinitiation. Titration of large amounts of DnaA protein to a non-oriC locus can repress untimely initiations, and timely duplication of this locus is required for this repression in rapidly growing cells. All these systems functionally complement one another to ensure the maintenance of the interinitiation interval between two normal DNA replication cycles. The mechanisms that link the replication cycle to the progression of the cell cycle are also discussed.
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