DciA Helicase Operators Exhibit Diversity across Bacterial Phyla

Despite the fundamental importance of DNA replication for life, this process remains understudied in bacteria outside Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. In particular, most bacteria do not encode the helicase-loading proteins that are essential in E. coli and B. subtilis for DNA replication. Instead, most bacteria encode a DciA homolog that likely constitutes the predominant mechanism of helicase operation in bacteria. However, it is still unknown how DciA structure and function compare across diverse phyla that encode DciA proteins. In this study, we performed computational evolutionary analyses to uncover tremendous diversity among DciA homologs. These studies provide a significant advance in our understanding of an essential component of the bacterial DNA replication machinery.