During cell division, genome integrity is maintained by faithful DNA replication during S phase, followed by accurate segregation in mitosis. Many DNA metabolic events linked with DNA replication are also regulated throughout the cell cycle. In eukaryotes, the DNA sliding clamp, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), acts on chromatin as a processivity factor for DNA polymerases. Since its discovery, many other PCNA binding partners have been identified that function during DNA replication, repair, recombination, chromatin remodeling, cohesion, and proteolysis in cell-cycle progression. PCNA not only recruits the proteins involved in such events, but it also actively controls their function as chromatin assembles. Therefore, control of PCNA-loading onto chromatin is fundamental for various replication-coupled reactions. PCNA is loaded onto chromatin by PCNA-loading replication factor C (RFC) complexes. Both RFC1-RFC and Ctf18-RFC fundamentally function as PCNA loaders. On the other hand, after DNA synthesis, PCNA must be removed from chromatin by Elg1-RFC. Functional defects in RFC complexes lead to chromosomal abnormalities. In this review, we summarize the structural and functional relationships among RFC complexes, and describe how the regulation of PCNA loading/unloading by RFC complexes contributes to maintaining genome integrity.
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