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Reference: Ak P and Benham CJ (2005) Susceptibility to superhelically driven DNA duplex destabilization: a highly conserved property of yeast replication origins. PLoS Comput Biol 1(1):e7

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Abstract

Strand separation is obligatory for several DNA functions, including replication. However, local DNA properties such as A+T content or thermodynamic stability alone do not determine the susceptibility to this transition in vivo. Rather, superhelical stresses provide long-range coupling among the transition behaviors of all base pairs within a topologically constrained domain. We have developed methods to analyze superhelically induced duplex destabilization (SIDD) in genomic DNA that take into account both this long-range stress-induced coupling and sequence-dependent local thermodynamic stability. Here we apply this approach to examine the SIDD properties of 39 experimentally well-characterized autonomously replicating DNA sequences (ARS elements), which function as replication origins in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We find that these ARS elements have a strikingly increased susceptibility to SIDD relative to their surrounding sequences. On average, these ARS elements require 4.78 kcal/mol less free energy to separate than do their immediately surrounding sequences, making them more than 2,000 times easier to open. Statistical analysis shows that the probability of this strong an association between SIDD sites and ARS elements arising by chance is approximately 4 x 10. This local enhancement of the propensity to separate to single strands under superhelical stress has obvious implications for origin function. SIDD properties also could be used, in conjunction with other known origin attributes, to identify putative replication origins in yeast, and possibly in other metazoan genomes.

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Journal Article
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Ak P, Benham CJ
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