The origin recognition complex (ORC) binds to the specific positions on chromosomes that serve as DNA replication origins. Although ORC is conserved from yeast to humans, the DNA sequence elements that specify ORC binding are not. In particular, metazoan ORC shows no obvious DNA sequence specificity, whereas yeast ORC binds to a specific DNA sequence within all yeast origins. Thus, whereas chromatin must play an important role in metazoan ORC's ability to recognize origins, it is unclear whether chromatin plays a role in yeast ORC's recognition of origins. This study focused on the role of the conserved N-terminal bromo-adjacent homology domain of yeast Orc1 (Orc1BAH). Recent studies indicate that BAH domains are chromatin-binding modules. We show that the Orc1BAH domain was necessary for ORC's stable association with yeast chromosomes, and was physiologically relevant to DNA replication in vivo. This replication role was separable from the Orc1BAH domain's previously defined role in transcriptional silencing. Genome-wide analyses of ORC binding in ORC1 and orc1bahDelta cells revealed that the Orc1BAH domain contributed to ORC's association with most yeast origins, including a class of origins highly dependent on the Orc1BAH domain for ORC association (orc1bahDelta-sensitive origins). Orc1bahDelta-sensitive origins required the Orc1BAH domain for normal activity on chromosomes and plasmids, and were associated with a distinct local nucleosome structure. These data provide molecular insights into how the Orc1BAH domain contributes to ORC's selection of replication origins, as well as new tools for examining conserved mechanisms governing ORC's selection of origins within eukaryotic chromosomes.
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