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J Mol Biol. 2012 Dec 7;424(3-4):109-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2012.07.014. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

The structure of DNA-bound human topoisomerase II alpha: conformational mechanisms for coordinating inter-subunit interactions with DNA cleavage.

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Biophysics Graduate Program, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Type II topoisomerases are required for the management of DNA superhelicity and chromosome segregation, and serve as frontline targets for a variety of small-molecule therapeutics. To better understand how these enzymes act in both contexts, we determined the 2.9-Å-resolution structure of the DNA cleavage core of human topoisomerase IIα (TOP2A) bound to a doubly nicked, 30-bp duplex oligonucleotide. In accord with prior biochemical and structural studies, TOP2A significantly bends its DNA substrate using a bipartite, nucleolytic center formed at an N-terminal dimerization interface of the cleavage core. However, the protein also adopts a global conformation in which the second of its two inter-protomer contact points, one at the C-terminus, has separated. This finding, together with comparative structural analyses, reveals that the principal site of DNA engagement undergoes highly quantized conformational transitions between distinct binding, cleavage, and drug-inhibited states that correlate with the control of subunit-subunit interactions. Additional consideration of our TOP2A model in light of an etoposide-inhibited complex of human topoisomerase IIβ (TOP2B) suggests possible modification points for developing paralog-specific inhibitors to overcome the tendency of topoisomerase II-targeting chemotherapeutics to generate secondary malignancies.

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