Cdc6 proteins play an essential role in the initiation of chromosomal DNA replication in Eukarya. Genes coding for putative homologs of Cdc6 have been also identified in the genomic sequence of Archaea, but the properties of the corresponding proteins have been poorly investigated so far. Herein, we report the biochemical characterization of one of the three putative Cdc6-like factors from the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus (SsoCdc6-1). SsoCdc6-1 was overproduced in Escherichia coli as a His-tagged protein and purified to homogeneity. Gel filtration and glycerol gradient ultracentrifugation experiments indicated that this protein behaves as a monomer in solution (molecular mass of about 45 kDa). We demonstrated that SsoCdc6-1 binds single- and double-stranded DNA molecules by electrophoretic mobility shift assays. SsoCdc6-1 undergoes autophosphorylation in vitro and possesses a weak ATPase activity, whereas the protein with a mutation in the Walker A motif (Lys-59 → Ala) is completely unable to hydrolyze ATP and does not autophosphorylate. We found that SsoCdc6-1 strongly inhibits the ATPase and DNA helicase activity of the S. solfataricus MCM protein. These findings provide the first in vitro biochemical evidence of a functional interaction between a MCM complex and a Cdc6 factor and have important implications for the understanding of the Cdc6 biological function.
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