Faithful DNA replication is required for transmission of the genetic material across generations. The basic mechanisms underlying this process are shared among all organisms: progressive unwinding of the long double-stranded DNA; synthesis of RNA primers; and synthesis of a new DNA chain. These activities are invariably performed by a multi-component machine called the replisome. A detailed description of this molecular machine has been achieved in prokaryotes and phages, with the replication processes in eukaryotes being comparatively less known. However, recent breakthroughs in the in vitro reconstitution of eukaryotic replisomes have resulted in valuable insight into their functions and mechanisms. In conjunction with the developments in eukaryotic replication, an emerging overall view of replisomes as dynamic protein ensembles is coming into fruition. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the recent insights into the dynamic nature of the bacterial replisome, revealed through single-molecule techniques, and to describe some aspects of the eukaryotic replisome under this framework. We primarily focus on Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast), since a significant amount of literature is available for these two model organisms. We end with a description of the methods of live-cell fluorescence microscopy for the characterization of replisome dynamics.

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