National Center for
2H7G: Structure Of Variola Topoisomerase Non-covalently Bound To Dna
Mol. Cell (2006) 23 p.343-354
Although smallpox has been eradicated from the human population, it is presently feared as a possible agent of bioterrorism. The smallpox virus codes for its own topoisomerase enzyme that differs from its cellular counterpart by requiring a specific DNA sequence for activation of catalysis. Here we present crystal structures of the smallpox virus topoisomerase enzyme bound both covalently and noncovalently to a specific DNA sequence. These structures reveal the basis for site-specific DNA recognition, and they explain how catalysis is likely activated by formation of a specific enzyme-DNA interface. Unexpectedly, the poxvirus enzyme uses a major groove binding alpha helix that is not present in the human enzyme to recognize part of the core recognition sequence and activate the enzyme for catalysis. The topoisomerase-DNA complex structures also provide a three-dimensional framework that may facilitate the rational design of therapeutic agents to treat poxvirus infections.