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PLoS One. 2008;3(12):e4103. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004103. Epub 2008 Dec 31.

Topoisomerase IIbeta activates a subset of neuronal genes that are repressed in AT-rich genomic environment.

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Department of Neurogenomics, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan.


DNA topoisomerase II (topo II) catalyzes a strand passage reaction in that one duplex is passed through a transient brake or gate in another. Completion of late stages of neuronal development depends on the presence of active beta isoform (topo IIbeta). The enzyme appears to aid the transcriptional induction of a limited number of genes essential for neuronal maturation. However, this selectivity and underlying molecular mechanism remains unknown. Here we show a strong correlation between the genomic location of topo IIbeta action sites and the genes it regulates. These genes, termed group A1, are functionally biased towards membrane proteins with ion channel, transporter, or receptor activities. Significant proportions of them encode long transcripts and are juxtaposed to a long AT-rich intergenic region (termed LAIR). We mapped genomic sites directly targeted by topo IIbeta using a functional immunoprecipitation strategy. These sites can be classified into two distinct classes with discrete local GC contents. One of the classes, termed c2, appears to involve a strand passage event between distant segments of genomic DNA. The c2 sites are concentrated both in A1 gene boundaries and the adjacent LAIR, suggesting a direct link between the action sites and the transcriptional activation. A higher-order chromatin structure associated with AT richness and gene poorness is likely to serve as a silencer of gene expression, which is abrogated by topo IIbeta releasing nearby genes from repression. Positioning of these genes and their control machinery may have developed recently in vertebrate evolution to support higher functions of central nervous system.

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