DNA topoisomerases

Annu Rev Biochem. 1996;65:635-92. doi: 10.1146/annurev.bi.65.070196.003223.


The various problems of disentangling DNA strands or duplexes in a cell are all rooted in the double-helical structure of DNA. Three distinct subfamilies of enzymes, known as the DNA topoisomerases, have evolved to solve these problems. This review focuses on work in the past decade on the mechanisms and cellular functions of these enzymes. Newly discovered members and recent biochemical and structural results are reviewed, and mechanistic implications of these results are summarized. The primary cellular functions of these enzymes, including their roles in replication, transcription, chromosome condensation, and the maintenance of genome stability, are then discussed. The review ends with a summary of the regulation of the cellular levels of these enzymes and a discussion of their association with other cellular proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I / chemistry
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Protein Conformation


  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I