Cdc45 (cell division cycle protein 45) guards the gate of the Eukaryote Replisome helicase stabilizing leading strand engagement

More about Open Access at the Crick


DNA replication licensing is now understood to be the pathway that leads to the assembly of double hexamers of minichromosome maintenance (Mcm2-7) at origin sites. Cell division control protein 45 (Cdc45) and GINS proteins activate the latent Mcm2-7 helicase by inducing allosteric changes through binding, forming a Cdc45/Mcm2-7/GINS (CMG) complex that is competent to unwind duplex DNA. The CMG has an active gate between subunits Mcm2 and Mcm5 that opens and closes in response to nucleotide binding. The consequences of inappropriate Mcm2/5 gate actuation and the role of a side channel formed between GINS/Cdc45 and the outer edge of the Mcm2-7 ring for unwinding have remained unexplored. Here we uncover a novel function for Cdc45. Cross-linking studies trace the path of the DNA with the CMG complex at a fork junction between duplex and single strands with the bound CMG in an open or closed gate conformation. In the closed state, the lagging strand does not pass through the side channel, but in the open state, the leading strand surprisingly interacts with Cdc45. Mutations in the recombination protein J fold of Cdc45 that ablate this interaction diminish helicase activity. These data indicate that Cdc45 serves as a shield to guard against occasional slippage of the leading strand from the core channel.

Journal details

Volume 112
Issue number 3
Pages E249-E258
Available online
Publication date