Duplex DNA engagement and RPA oppositely regulate the DNA-unwinding rate of CMG helicase

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A ring-shaped helicase unwinds DNA during chromosome replication in all organisms. Replicative helicases generally unwind duplex DNA an order of magnitude slower compared to their in vivo replication fork rates. However, the origin of slow DNA unwinding rates by replicative helicases and the mechanism by which other replication components increase helicase speed are unclear. Here, we demonstrate that engagement of the eukaryotic CMG helicase with template DNA at the replication fork impairs its helicase activity, which is alleviated by binding of the single-stranded DNA binding protein, RPA, to the excluded DNA strand. Intriguingly, we found that, when stalled due to interaction with the parental duplex, DNA rezipping-induced helicase backtracking reestablishes productive helicase-fork engagement, underscoring the significance of plasticity in helicase action. Our work provides a mechanistic basis for relatively slow duplex unwinding by replicative helicases and explains how replisome components that interact with the excluded DNA strand stimulate fork rates.

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Volume 11
Pages 3713
Available online
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