The exact duplication of a genome once per cell division is required of every proliferating cell. To achieve this goal, eukaryotes adopt a strategy that limits every replication origin to a single initiation event within a narrow window of the cell cycle by temporally separating the assembly of the pre-replication complex (pre-RC) from the initiation of DNA synthesis. A key component of the pre-RC is the hexameric MCM complex, which is also the presumed helicase of the growing forks. An elaborate mechanism recruits the MCM complex to replication origins, and a regulatory chain reaction converts the poised, but inactive, MCM complex into an enzymatically active helicase. A growing list of proteins, including Mcm10 and Cdt1, are involved in the recruitment process. Two protein kinases, the Cdc7-Dbf4 kinase (DDK) and the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK), trigger a chain reaction that results in the phosphorylation of the MCM complex and finally in the initiation of DNA synthesis. A composite picture from recent studies suggests that DDK is recruited to the pre-RC during G(1) phase but must wait until S phase to phosphorylate the MCM complex. CDK is required for the recruitment of Cdc45 and other downstream components of the elongation machinery.
- © 2001 by Company of Biologists