Initiation of DNA replication is required for cell viability and passage of genetic information to the next generation. Studies in Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis have established ATPases associated with diverse cellular activities (AAA1) as essential proteins required for loading of the replicative helicase at replication origins. AAA1 ATPases DnaC in E. coli and DnaI in B. subtilis have long been considered the paradigm for helicase loading during replication in bacteria. Recently, it has become increasingly clear that most bacteria lack DnaC/DnaI homologs. Instead, most bacteria express a protein homologous to the newly described DciA (dnaC/dnaI antecedent) protein. DciA is not an ATPase, and yet it serves as a helicase operator, providing a function analogous to that of DnaC and DnaI across diverse bacterial species. The recent discovery of DciA and of other alternative mechanisms of helicase loading in bacteria has changed our understanding of DNA replication initiation. In this review, we highlight recent discoveries, detailing what is currently known about the replicative helicase loading process across bacterial species, and we discuss the critical questions that remain to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • DNA replication
  • DciA
  • eubacteria
  • helicase
  • initiation


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