The sliding clamp, PCNA, of the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus P2 is a heterotrimer of three distinct subunits (PCNA1, 2, and 3) that assembles in a defined manner. The PCNA heterotrimer, but not individual subunits, stimulates the activities of the DNA polymerase, DNA ligase I, and the flap endonuclease (FEN1) of S. solfataricus. Distinct PCNA subunits contact DNA polymerase, DNA ligase, or FEN1, imposing a defined architecture at the lagging strand fork and suggesting the existence of a preformed scanning complex at the fork. This provides a mechanism to tightly couple DNA synthesis and Okazaki fragment maturation. Additionally, unique subunit-specific interactions between components of the clamp loader, RFC, suggest a model for clamp loading of PCNA.
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