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.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.