The human primosome, a four-subunit complex of primase and DNA polymerase alpha (Polα), synthesizes chimeric RNA-DNA primers of a limited length for DNA polymerases delta and epsilon to initiate DNA replication on both chromosome strands. Despite recent structural insights into the action of its two catalytic centers, the mechanism of DNA synthesis termination is still unclear. Here we report results of functional and structural studies revealing how the human primosome counts RNA-DNA primer length and timely terminates DNA elongation. Using a single-turnover primer extension assay, we defined two factors that determine a mature primer length (∼35-mer): (i) a tight interaction of the C-terminal domain of the DNA primase large subunit (p58C) with the primer 5'-end, and (ii) flexible tethering of p58C and the DNA polymerase alpha catalytic core domain (p180core) to the primosome platform domain by extended linkers. The obtained data allow us to conclude that p58C is a key regulator of all steps of RNA-DNA primer synthesis. The above-described findings provide a notable insight into the mechanism of DNA synthesis termination by a eukaryotic primosome, an important process for ensuring successful primer handover to replication DNA polymerases and for maintaining genome integrity.
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