Furthermore, DNA polymerase III must be able to distinguish between correctly paired bases and incorrectly paired bases. This is accomplished by distinguishing Watson-Crick base pairs through the use of an active site pocket that is complementary in shape to the structure of correctly paired nucleotides. This pocket has a tyrosine residue that is able to form van der Waals interactions with the correctly paired nucleotide. In addition, dsDNA in the active site has a wider and shallower minor groove that permits the formation of hydrogen bonds with the third nitrogen of purine bases and the second oxygen of pyrimidine bases. Finally, the active site makes extensive hydrogen bonds with the DNA backbone. These interactions result in the DNA polymerase III closing around a correctly paired base. If a base is inserted and incorrectly paired, these interactions could not occur due to disruptions in hydrogen bonding and van der Waals interactions.
DNA is read in the 3' → 5' direction, therefore, nucleotides are synthesized (or attached to the template strand) in the 5' → 3' direction. However, one of the parent strands of DNA is 3' → 5' while the other is 5' → 3'. To solve this, replication occurs in opposite directions. Heading towards the replication fork, the leading strand in synthesized in a continuous fashion, only requiring one primer. On the other hand, the lagging strand, heading away from the replication fork, is synthesized in a series of short fragments known as Okazaki fragments, consequently requiring many primers. The RNA primers of Okazaki fragments are subsequently degraded by RNAse H and DNA Polymerase I (exonuclease), and the gap (or nicks) are filled with deoxyribonucleotides and sealed by the enzyme ligase.
Regulation of DNA replication is achieved through several mechanisms. Mechanisms involve the ratio of ATP to ADP, of DnaA to the number of DnaA boxes and the hemimethylation and sequestering of OriC. The ratio of ATP to ADP indicates that the cell has reached a specific size and is ready to divide. This "signal" occurs because in a rich medium, the cell will grow quickly and will have a lot of excess DNA. Furthermore, DnaA binds equally well to ATP or ADP, and only the DnaA-ATP complex is able to initiate replication. Thus, in a fast growing cell, there will be more DnaA-ATP than DnaA-ADP. Because the levels of DnaA are strictly regulated, and 5 DnaA-DnaA dimers are needed to initiate replication, the ratio of DnaA to the number of DnaA boxes in the cell is important. After DNA replication is complete, this number is halved, thus DNA replication cannot occur until the levels of DnaA protein increases. Finally, DNA is sequestered to a membrane-binding protein called SeqA. This protein binds to hemi-methylated GATC DNA sequences. This four bp sequences occurs 11 times in OriC, and newly synthesized DNA only has its parent strand methylated. DAM methyltransferase methylates the newly synthesized strand of DNA only if it is not bound to SeqA. The importance of hemi-methylation is twofold. Firstly, OriC becomes inaccessible to DnaA, and secondly, DnaA binds better to fully methylated DNA than hemi-methylated DNA.