Division of labor between PCNA loaders in DNA replication and sister chromatid cohesion establishment.

Concomitant with DNA replication, the chromosomal cohesin complex establishes cohesion between newly replicated sister chromatids. Several replication-fork-associated "cohesion establishment factors," including the multifunctional Ctf18-RFC complex, aid this process in as yet unknown ways. Here, we show that Ctf18-RFC's role in sister chromatid cohesion correlates with PCNA loading but is separable from its role in the replication checkpoint. Ctf18-RFC loads PCNA with a slight preference for the leading strand, which is dispensable for DNA replication. Conversely, the canonical Rfc1-RFC complex preferentially loads PCNA onto the lagging strand, which is crucial for DNA replication but dispensable for sister chromatid cohesion. The downstream effector of Ctf18-RFC is cohesin acetylation, which we place toward a late step during replication maturation. Our results suggest that Ctf18-RFC enriches and balances PCNA levels at the replication fork, beyond the needs of DNA replication, to promote establishment of sister chromatid cohesion and possibly other post-replicative processes.