The Biochemical Mechanism of Fork Regression in Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes—A Single Molecule Comparison

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4 Scopus citations


The rescue of stalled DNA replication forks is essential for cell viability. Impeded but still intact forks can be rescued by atypical DNA helicases in a reaction known as fork regression. This reaction has been studied at the single-molecule level using the Escherichia coli DNA helicase RecG and, separately, using the eukaryotic SMARCAL1 enzyme. Both nanomachines possess the necessary activities to regress forks: they simultaneously couple DNA unwinding to duplex rewinding and the displacement of bound proteins. Furthermore, they can regress a fork into a Holliday junction structure, the central intermediate of many fork regression models. However, there are key differences between these two enzymes. RecG is monomeric and unidirectional, catalyzing an efficient and processive fork regression reaction and, in the process, generating a significant amount of force that is used to displace the tightly-bound E. coli SSB protein. In contrast, the inefficient SMARCAL1 is not unidirectional, displays limited processivity, and likely uses fork rewinding to facilitate RPA displacement. Like many other eukaryotic enzymes, SMARCAL1 may require additional factors and/or post-translational modifications to enhance its catalytic activity, whereas RecG can drive fork regression on its own.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8613
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • DNA repair
  • DNA replication
  • HARP
  • RPA
  • RecG
  • SSB protein
  • fork regression
  • fork reversal
  • stalled replication fork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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