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Cell. 1988 Feb 26;52(4):585-97.

Sites of topoisomerase I action on X. laevis ribosomal chromatin: transcriptionally active rDNA has an approximately 200 bp repeating structure.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.


The sites at which topoisomerase I interacts with the transcriptionally active ribosomal chromatin of Xenopus oocytes were mapped by treating oocyte nuclei first with camptothecin to stabilize topoisomerase I-rDNA reaction intermediates, and then with SDS to resolve these adducts as protein-linked nicks in the DNA. Strikingly, the topoisomerase I sites are concentrated in the region encoding the 18S, 5.8S, and 28S rRNAs, where they are spaced with a periodicity of approximately 200 nucleotides. Plasmid rDNA that has assembled into a nucleoprotein structure in an oocyte nuclear extract yields this same restricted pattern of sites, while rDNA that is not in a chromatin structure exhibits a continuum of topoisomerase I cleavages. Thus, the approximately 200 bp spacing of sites of topoisomerase I interaction evidently reflects rDNA chromatin structure. These results indicate that the active rRNA genes are organized into nucleosome-like arrays, with topoisomerase I located in the linker regions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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