Cellular roles of DNA topoisomerases: a molecular perspective

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2002 Jun;3(6):430-40. doi: 10.1038/nrm831.


DNA topoisomerases are the magicians of the DNA world by allowing DNA strands or double helices to pass through each other, they can solve all of the topological problems of DNA in replication, transcription and other cellular transactions. Extensive biochemical and structural studies over the past three decades have provided molecular models of how the various subfamilies of DNA topoisomerase manipulate DNA. In this review, the cellular roles of these enzymes are examined from a molecular point of view.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I / metabolism*
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • DNA
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II