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Biochemistry. 2004 Jan 27;43(3):728-35.

Cobalt enhances DNA cleavage mediated by human topoisomerase II alpha in vitro and in cultured cells.

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Department of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-0146, USA.


Although cobalt is an essential trace element for humans, the metal is genotoxic and mutagenic at higher concentrations. Treatment of cells with cobalt generates DNA strand breaks and covalent protein-DNA complexes. However, the basis for these effects is not well understood. Since the toxic events induced by cobalt resemble those of topoisomerase II poisons, the effect of the metal on human topoisomerase IIalpha was examined. The level of enzyme-mediated DNA scission increased 6-13-fold when cobalt(II) replaced magnesium(II) in cleavage reactions. Cobalt(II) stimulated cleavage at all DNA sites observed in the presence of magnesium(II), and the enzyme cut DNA at several "cobalt-specific" sites. The increased level of DNA cleavage in the presence of cobalt(II) was partially due to a decrease in the rate of enzyme-mediated religation. Topoisomerase IIalpha retained many of its catalytic properties in reactions that included cobalt(II), including sensitivity to the anticancer drug etoposide and the ability to relax and decatenate DNA. Finally, cobalt(II) stimulated topoisomerase IIalpha-mediated DNA cleavage in the presence of magnesium(II) in purified systems and in human MCF-7 cells. These findings demonstrate that cobalt(II) is a topoisomerase II poison in vitro and in cultured cells and suggest that at least some of the genotoxic effects of the metal are mediated through topoisomerase IIalpha.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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