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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Biophysics - Molecular Biology - Physics

Modeling Inhomogeneous DNA Replication Kinetics
Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Author: Michel G. Gauthier et al.

by Michel G. Gauthier, Paolo Norio, John Bechhoefer

In eukaryotic organisms, DNA replication is initiated at a series of chromosomal locations called origins, where replication forks are assembled proceeding bidirectionally to replicate the genome. The distribution and firing rate of these origins, in conjunction with the velocity at which forks progress, dictate the program of the replication process. Previous attempts at modeling DNA replication in eukaryotes have focused on cases where the firing rate and the velocity of replication forks are homogeneous, or uniform, across the genome. However, it is now known that there are large variations in origin activity along the genome and variations in fork velocities can also take place. Here, we generalize previous approaches to modeling replication, to allow for arbitrary spatial variation of initiation rates and fork velocities. We derive rate equations for left- and right-moving forks and for replication probability over time that can be solved numerically to obtain the mean-field replication program. This method accurately reproduces the results of DNA replication simulation. We also successfully adapted our approach to the inverse problem of fitting measurements of DNA replication performed on single DNA molecules. Since such measurements are performed on specified portion of the genome, the examined DNA molecules may be replicated by forks that originate either within the studied molecule or outside of it. This problem was solved by using an effective flux of incoming replication forks at the model boundaries to represent the origin activity outside the studied region. Using this approach, we show that reliable inferences can be made about the replication of specific portions of the genome even if the amount of data that can be obtained from single-molecule experiments is generally limited.
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