The replication of kinetoplast DNA networks in Crithidia fasciculata

Paul T. Englund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Kinetoplast DNA from the mitochondria of Crithidia is in the form of a two-dimensional network of thousands of minicircles each containing about 2.5 kb, and a small number of maxicircles each containing about 40 kb. Fractionation of kinetoplast DNA by equilibrium centrifugation in a CsCl-propidium dilodide gradient resolves it into three types of networks. Form I networks band at high density and contain minicircles which are covalently closed; form II networks band at low density and contain minicircles which are nicked or gapped; and replicating networks band at intermediate density and contain some minicircles of each type. Form I networks contain about 5000 minicircles; form II networks contain about 11,000; and replicating networks contain an intermediate number. When cells are pulse-labeled with 3H-thymidine, radioactivity in mitochondrial DNA is preferentially incorporated into replicating networks, but after a chase it appears first in form II networks and finally in form I. Examination of replicating networks by electron microscopy in the presence of ethidium bromide reveals that minicircles in the central region of the network are twisted and therefore covalently closed, whereas those in the peripheral region are not twisted and therefore must be nicked or gapped. The pulse-label is incorporated into the nicked or gapped minicircles of the replicating networks. These results indicate that replication of form I networks begins in peripheral minicircles and that progeny minicircles remain nicked or gapped. As replication proceeds, the size of the network increases, and the peripheral zone of nicked or gapped minicircles enlarges. Finally, when all minicircles have replicated, the network, now form II, is double the size of form I and contains only nicked or gapped minicircles. The final step in replication presumably includes both the cleavage of the network into two form I species and the covalent closure of all the minicircles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-168
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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