Rodriguez J, Tsukiyama T
Faithful DNA replication is essential for normal cell division and differentiation. In eukaryotic cells, DNA replication takes place on chromatin. This poses the critical question as to how DNA replication can progress through chromatin, which is inhibitory to all DNA-dependent processes. Here, we developed a novel genome-wide method to measure chromatin accessibility to micrococcal nuclease (MNase) that is normalized for nucleosome density, the NCAM (normalized chromatin accessibility to MNase) assay. This method enabled us to discover that chromatin accessibility increases specifically at and ahead of DNA replication forks in normal S phase and during replication stress. We further found that Mec1, a key regulatory ATR-like kinase in the S-phase checkpoint, is required for both normal chromatin accessibility around replication forks and replication fork rate during replication stress, revealing novel functions for the kinase in replication stress response. These results suggest a possibility that Mec1 may facilitate DNA replication fork progression during replication stress by increasing chromatin accessibility around replication forks.