Okazaki Fragments - Okazaki Fragments in Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes

Okazaki Fragments in Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes

DNA molecules in eukaryotes differ from the circular molecules of prokaryotes in that they are larger and usually have multiple origins of replication. This means that each eukaryotic chromosome is composed of many replicating units of DNA with multiple origins of replication. In comparison, the prokaryotic E. coli chromosome has only a single origin of replication. In eukaryotes, these replicating forks, which are numerous all along the DNA, form "bubbles" in the DNA during replication. The replication fork forms at a specific point called autonomously replicating sequences (ARS). Eukaryotes have a clamp loader complex and a six-unit clamp called the proliferating cell nuclear antigen. The efficient movement of the replication fork also relies critically on the rapid placement of sliding clamps at newly primed sites on the lagging DNA strand by ATP-dependent clamp loader complexes. This means that the piecewise generation of Okazaki fragments can keep up with the continuous synthesis of DNA on the leading strand. These clamp loader complexes are characteristic of all eukaryotes and separate some of the minor differences in the synthesis of Okazaki fragments in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The lengths of Okazaki fragments in prokaryotes and eukaryotes are different as well. Prokaryotes have Okazaki fragments that are quite longer than those of eukaryotes. Eukaryotes typically have Okazaki fragments that are 100 to 200 nucleotides long, whereas prokaryotic E. Coli can be 2,000 nucleotides long. Okazaki fragments are also produced much quicker in prokaryotes since prokaryotic cells contain less genetic material. The complexity of the DNA in eukaryotes calls for a longer production time of the Okazaki fragments.

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