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Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Feb;37(3):712-20. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkn1059. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Analysis of the eukaryotic topoisomerase II DNA gate: a single-molecule FRET and structural perspective.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Type II DNA topoisomerases (topos) are essential and ubiquitous enzymes that perform important intracellular roles in chromosome condensation and segregation, and in regulating DNA supercoiling. Eukaryotic topo II, a type II topoisomerase, is a homodimeric enzyme that solves topological entanglement problems by using the energy from ATP hydrolysis to pass one segment of DNA through another by way of a reversible, enzyme-bridged double-stranded break. This DNA break is linked to the protein by a phosphodiester bond between the active site tyrosine of each subunit and backbone phosphate of DNA. The opening and closing of the DNA gate, a critical step for strand passage during the catalytic cycle, is coupled to this enzymatic cleavage/religation of the backbone. This reversible DNA cleavage reaction is the target of a number of anticancer drugs, which can elicit DNA damage by affecting the cleavage/religation equilibrium. Because of its clinical importance, many studies have sought to determine the manner in which topo II interacts with DNA. Here we highlight recent single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer and crystallographic studies that have provided new insight into the dynamics and structure of the topo II DNA gate.

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