The Effects of Oligomerization on Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mcm4/6/7 Function
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BACKGROUND: Minichromosome maintenance proteins (Mcm) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are related by sequence and form a variety of complexes that unwind DNA, including Mcm4/6/7. A Mcm4/6/7 trimer forms one half of the Mcm2-7 hexameric ring and can be thought of as the catalytic core of Mcm2-7, the replicative helicase in eukaryotic cells. Oligomeric analysis of Mcm4/6/7 suggests that it forms a hexamer containing two Mcm4/6/7 trimers, however, under certain conditions trimeric Mcm4/6/7 has also been observed. The functional significance of the different Mcm4/6/7 oligomeric states has not been assessed. The results of such an assessment would have implications for studies of both Mcm4/6/7 and Mcm2-7.
RESULTS: Here, we show that Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mcm4/6/7 reconstituted from individual subunits exists in an equilibrium of oligomeric forms in which smaller oligomers predominate in the absence of ATP. In addition, we found that ATP, which is required for Mcm4/6/7 activity, shifts the equilibrium towards larger oligomers, likely hexamers of Mcm4/6/7. ATPγS and to a lesser extent ADP also shift the equilibrium towards hexamers. Study of Mcm4/6/7 complexes containing mutations that interfere with the formation of inter-subunit ATP sites (arginine finger mutants) indicates that full activity of Mcm4/6/7 requires all of its ATP sites, which are formed in a hexamer and not a trimer. In keeping with this observation, Mcm4/6/7 binds DNA as a hexamer.
CONCLUSIONS: The minimal functional unit of Mcm4/6/7 is a hexamer. One of the roles of ATP binding by Mcm4/6/7 may be to stabilize formation of hexamers.