- Minichromosome maintenance (MCM) proteins are essential eukaryotic DNA replication factors. The binding of MCMs to chromatin oscillates in conjunction with progress through the mitotic cell cycle. This oscillation is thought to play an important role in coupling DNA replication to mitosis and limiting chromosome duplication to once per cell cycle. The coupling of DNA replication to mitosis is absent in Drosophila endoreplication cycles (endocycles), during which discrete rounds of chromosome duplication occur without intervening mitoses. We examined the behavior of MCM proteins in endoreplicating larval salivary glands, to determine whether oscillation of MCM-chromosome localization occurs in conjunction with passage through an endocycle S phase. We found that MCMs in polytene nuclei exist in two states: associated with or dissociated from chromosomes. We demonstrate that cyclin E can drive chromosome association of DmMCM2 and that DNA synthesis erases this association. We conclude that mitosis is not required for oscillations in chromosome binding of MCMs and propose that cycles of MCM-chromosome association normally occur in endocycles. These results are discussed in a model in which the cycle of MCM-chromosome associations is uncoupled from mitosis because of the distinctive program of cyclin expression in endocycles.