We studied the nuclear topography of the replicating enzyme DNA polymerase alpha in HeLa cells by transmission electron microscopy and field emission in lens scanning electron microscopy. Cells were synchronized at the G1/S-phase boundary and samples of the different phases of the cell cycle were labeled with an anti-DNA polymerase alpha antibody detected by an immunogold reaction. DNA synthesis was detected by immunogold labeling after bromodeoxyuridine administration. The typical labeling pattern of DNA polymerase alpha observed in G1- and S-phase cells was represented by circular structures 80-100 nm in diameter surrounding an electron-dense area. In double labeled samples these circular structures were associated with bromodeoxyuridine-containing DNA replication sites, forming rosette-like structures. Field emission scanning electron microscopy performed on ultrathin cryosections revealed the chromatin fibers underlying DNA polymerase alpha complexes and showed that the size of the rosette-like structures corresponded to the diameter of chromatin foldings. G2- and M-phase cells showed a spread distribution of DNA polymerase alpha. The evidence of DNA polymerase alpha circular arrangement exclusively in G1- and S-phase cells, obtained by such different approaches, allowed us to consider the three-dimensional structures as DNA replication areas.
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