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Nat Rev Cancer. 2009 May;9(5):327-37. doi: 10.1038/nrc2608. Epub 2009 Apr 20.

DNA topoisomerase II and its growing repertoire of biological functions.

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  • 1Molecular Pharmacology Department, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


DNA topoisomerases are enzymes that disentangle the topological problems that arise in double-stranded DNA. Many of these can be solved by the generation of either single or double strand breaks. However, where there is a clear requirement to alter DNA topology by introducing transient double strand breaks, only DNA topoisomerase II (TOP2) can carry out this reaction. Extensive biochemical and structural studies have provided detailed models of how TOP2 alters DNA structure, and recent molecular studies have greatly expanded knowledge of the biological contexts in which TOP2 functions, such as DNA replication, transcription and chromosome segregation -- processes that are essential for preventing tumorigenesis.

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