A specific fraction of chromosomal DNA from both yeast and a wide variety of other eukaryotes, but not from Escherichia coli, promotes high-frequency transformation in yeast. The plasmids containing these sequences are maintained as extra-chromosomal molecules in transformed cells. These results suggest that similar or identical sequences are used for the initiation of DNA replication in eukaryotes. To test this hypothesis, several foreign eukaryotic DNAs implicated directly or indirectly in the initiation of DNA replication have been examined for their ability to promote autonomous, extrachromosomal replication in yeast. Simian virus 40 DNA, amplified Xenopus laevis ribosomal DNA, X. laevis 5S ribosomal DNA, X. laevis mtDNA, and five different members of the Alu I family of human middle repetitive DNAs were cloned into the vector YIp5 and used to transform yeast. Of these DNAs, only Xenopus mtDNA promoted high-frequency transformation and extrachromosomal maintenance of YIp5 DNA. A 2.2-kilobase EcoRI fragment from the 17.4-kilobase mtDNA molecule was responsible for these activities. This fragment contains the sequence used for the initiation of replication in Xenopus mitochondria.
The cytoplasm of Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains two major classes of protein-encapsulated double-stranded ribonucleic acids (dsRNA's), L and M. Replication of L and M dsRNA's was examined in cells arrested in the G1 phase by either alpha-factor, a yeast mating pheromone, or the restrictive temperature for a cell cycle mutant (cdc7). [3H]uracil was added during the arrest periods to cells prelabeled with [14C]uracil, and replication was monitored by determining the ratio of 3H/14C for purified dsRNA's. Like mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid, both L and M dsRNA's were synthesized in the G1 arrested cells. The replication of L dsRNA was also examined during the S phase, using cells synchronized in two different ways. Cells containing the cdc7 mutation, treated sequentially with alpha-factor and then the restrictive temperature, enter a synchronous S phase when transferred to permissive temperature. When cells entered the S phase, synthesis of L dsRNA ceased, and little or no synthesis was detected throughout the S phase. Synthesis of L dsRNA was also observed in G1 phase cells isolated from asynchronous cultures by velocity centrifugation. Again, synthesis ceased when cells entered the S phase. These results indicate that L dsRNA replication is under cell cycle control. The control differs from that of mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid, which replicates in all phases of the cell cycle, and from that of 2-micron DNA, a multiple-copy plasmid whose replication is confined to the S phase.
The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has approximately 120 genes for the ribosomal RNAs (rDNA) which are organized in tandem within chromosomal DNA. These multiple-copy genes are homogeneous in sequence but can undergo changes in copy number and topology. To determine if these changes reflect unusual features of rDNA metabolism, we have examined both the replication of rDNA in the mitotic cell cycle and the inheritance of rDNA during meiosis. The results indicate that rDNA behaves identically to chromosomal DNA: each rDNA unit is replicated once during the S phase of each cell cycle and each unit is conserved through meiosis. Therefore, the flexibility in copy number and topology of rDNA does not arise from the selective replication of units in each S phase nor by the selective inheritance of units in meiosis.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains 50-100 copies per cell of a circular plasmid called 2 micron DNA. Replication of this DNA was studied in two ways. The distribution of replication events among 2 micron DNA molecules was examined by density transfer experiments with asynchronous cultures. The data show that 2 micron DNA replication is similar to chromosomal DNA replication: essentially all 2 micron duplexes were of hybrid density at one cell doubling after the density transfer, with the majority having one fully dense strand and one fully light strand. The results show that replication of 2 micron DNA occurs by a semiconservative mechanism where each of the plasmid molecules replicates once each cell cycle. 2 micron DNA is the only known example of a multiple-copy, extrachromosomal DNA in which every molecule replicates in each cell cycle. Quantitative analysis of the data indicates that 2 micron DNA replication is limited to a fraction of the cell cycle. The period in the cell cycle when 2 micron DNA replicates was examined directly with synchronous cell cultures. Synchronization was accomplished by sequentially arresting cells in G1 phase using the yeast pheromone alpha-factor and incubating at the restrictive temperature for a cell cycle (cdc 7) mutant. Replication was monitored by adding 3H-uracil to cells previously labeled with 14C-uracil, and determining the 3H/14C ratio for purified DNA species. 2 micron DNA replication did not occur during the G1 arrest periods. However, the population of 2 micron DNA doubled during the synchronous S phase at the permissive temperature, with most of the replication occurring in the first third of S phase. Our results indicate that a mechanism exists which insures that the origin of replication of each 2 micron DNA molecule is activated each S phase. As with chromosomal DNA, further activation is prevented until the next cell cycle. We propose that the mechanism which controls the replication initiation of each 2 micron DNA molecule is identical to that which controls the initiation of chromosomal DNA.