Topoisomerase IV can functionally replace all type 1A topoisomerases in Bacillus subtilis

Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Jun 4;47(10):5231-5242. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz260.


DNA topoisomerases play essential roles in chromosome organization and replication. Most bacteria possess multiple topoisomerases which have specialized functions in the control of DNA supercoiling or in DNA catenation/decatenation during recombination and chromosome segregation. DNA topoisomerase I is required for the relaxation of negatively supercoiled DNA behind the transcribing RNA polymerase. Conflicting results have been reported on the essentiality of the topA gene encoding topoisomerase I in the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis. In this work, we have studied the requirement for topoisomerase I in B. subtilis. All stable topA mutants carried different chromosomal amplifications of the genomic region encompassing the parEC operon encoding topoisomerase IV. Using a fluorescent amplification reporter system we observed that each individual topA mutant had acquired such an amplification. Eventually, the amplifications were replaced by a point mutation in the parEC promoter region which resulted in a fivefold increase of parEC expression. In this strain both type I topoisomerases, encoded by topA and topB, were dispensable. Our results demonstrate that topoisomerase IV at increased expression is necessary and sufficient to take over the function of type 1A topoisomerases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA Topoisomerase IV / metabolism*
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I / metabolism*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Superhelical / genetics
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Point Mutation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Superhelical
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • DNA Topoisomerase IV
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I