Background: By the total genome sequencing of several archaeal organisms, it has been confirmed that many archaeal proteins related to genetic information systems, including DNA replication, transcription and translation, have similar sequences to those of eukaryotes. In eukaryotic DNA replication, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) works in clamping DNA polymerases on the DNA template and accomplishes a processive DNA synthesis. Archaea encode PCNA homologues in their genomes and Pyrococcus furiosus PCNA (PfuPCNA) stimulates the DNA synthesizing activities of the DNA polymerases, Pol I and Pol II, in this organism. Results: We have demonstrated that PfuPCNA interacts functionally with calf thymus DNA polymerase δ (Pol δ) and stimulates its activity. Moreover, human replication factor C (RFC) enhances the PfuPCNA-dependent DNA synthesis activity of Pol δ, indicating that human RFC works as the clamp loader for PfuPCNA. These results showed that the three-dimensional structures of archaral PCNA and RFC are actually similar enough to their eukaryotic counterparts to allow a molecular substitution between the two biological domains, albeit at a lower efficiency. Conclusions: We found that the archaeal molecule interacts functionally with the eukaryotic members in the DNA replication process. This finding supports the idea that studies on the DNA replication mechanism of archaeal organisms will provide many important clues for understanding of the intricate molecular recognition that is inherent to the DNA replication machinery in Eukarya.
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