40 Scopus citations


The homotrimeric sliding clamp proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) mediates Okazaki fragment maturation through tight coordination of the activities of DNA polymerase δ (Pol δ), flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1) and DNA ligase I (Lig1). Little is known regarding the mechanism of partner switching on PCNA and the involvement of PCNA's three binding sites in coordinating such processes. To shed new light on PCNA-mediated Okazaki fragment maturation, we developed a novel approach for the generation of PCNA heterotrimers containing one or two mutant monomers that are unable to bind and stimulate partners. These heterotrimers maintain the native oligomeric structure of PCNA and exhibit high stability under various conditions. Unexpectedly, we found that PCNA heterotrimers containing only one functional binding site enable Okazaki fragment maturation by efficiently coordinating the activities of Pol δ, FEN1, and Lig1. The efficiency of switching between partners on PCNA was not significantly impaired by limiting the number of available binding sites on the PCNA ring. Our results provide the first direct evidence, to our knowledge, that simultaneous binding of multiple partners to PCNA is unnecessary, and if it occurs, does not provide significant functional advantages for PCNA-mediated Okazaki fragment maturation in vitro. In contrast to the "toolbelt" model, which was demonstrated for bacterial and archaeal sliding clamps, our results suggest a mechanism of sequential switching of partners on the eukaryotic PCNA trimer during DNA replication and repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14118-14123
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 30 2014


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