All tangled up: How cells direct, manage and exploit topoisomerase function

Seychelle M. Vos, Elsa M. Tretter, Bryan H. Schmidt, James M. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

357 Scopus citations


Topoisomerases are complex molecular machines that modulate DNA topology to maintain chromosome superstructure and integrity. Although capable of stand-alone activity in vitro, topoisomerases are frequently linked to larger pathways and systems that resolve specific DNA superstructures and intermediates arising from cellular processes such as DNA repair, transcription, replication and chromosome compaction. Topoisomerase activity is indispensible to cells, but requires the transient breakage of DNA strands. This property has been exploited, often for significant clinical benefit, by various exogenous agents that interfere with cell proliferation. Despite decades of study, surprising findings involving topoisomerases continue to emerge with respect to their cellular function, regulation and utility as therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-841
Number of pages15
JournalNature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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