Michel, B. Bernander, R. Chromosome replication origins: Do we really need them? Bioessays. 2014 Mar 19. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400003.


Replication of the main chromosome in the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii was recently reported to continue despite deletion of all active replication origins. Equally surprising, the deletion strain grew faster than the parent strain. It was proposed that origin-less H. volcanii duplicate their chromosomes via recombination-dependent replication. Here, we recall our present knowledge of this mode of chromosome replication in different organisms. We consider the likelihood that it accounts for the viability of H. volcanii deleted for its main specific replication origins, as well as possible alternative interpretations of the results. The selective advantages of having defined chromosome replication origins are discussed from a functional and evolutionary perspective.