PART C - The replication bubble and antiparallel elongation
DNA replication always begins at an origin of replication. In bacteria, there is a single origin of replication on the circular chromosome, as shown in the image here. Beginning at the origin of replication, the two parental strands (dark blue) separate, forming a replication bubble. At each end of the replication bubble is a replication fork where the parental strands are unwound and new daughter strands (light blue) are synthesized. Movement of the replication forks away from the origin expands the replication bubble until two identical chromosomes are ultimately produced.
Diagram showing DNA replication in a circular chromosome. For simplicity, the double-stranded DNA is shown as two concentric circles. There is one origin of replication, where the two parental strands, shown in dark blue, separate, forming a replication bubble. At each end of the replication bubble is a replication fork, indicated by a pink arrow, where the parental strands are unwound and new daughter strands, shown in light blue, are synthesized. The replication forks move away from the origin and expand the replication bubble. As the light blue strands elongate, the two double-stranded circles that are forming start to peel off from each other. The end result is two separate, identical daughter DNA molecules, each composed of one parental strand, dark blue, and one new strand, light blue.
In this activity, you will demonstrate your understanding of antiparallel elongation at the replication forks. Keep in mind that the two strands in a double helix are oriented in opposite directions, that is, they are antiparallel.
Drag the arrows onto the diagram below to indicate the direction that DNA polymerase III moves along the parental (template) DNA strands at each of the two replication forks. Arrows can be used once, more than once, or not at all.
[DNA polymerase III can only add nucleotides to the 3' end of a new DNA strand. Because the two parental DNA strands of a double helix are antiparallel (go from 3' to 5' in opposite directions), the direction that DNA pol III moves on each strand emerging from a single replication fork must also be opposite.
For example, in the replication fork on the left, the new strand on top is being synthesized from 5' to 3', and therefore DNA pol III moves away from the replication fork. Similarly, the new strand on the bottom of that same replication fork is being synthesized from 5' to 3'. But because the bottom parental strand is running in the opposite direction of the top parental strand, DNA pol III moves toward the replication fork.
In summary, at a single replication fork, one strand is synthesized away from the replication fork, and one strand is synthesized toward the replication fork. When you look at both replication forks, note that a single new strand is built in the same direction on both sides of the replication bubble.]