MiniVectors Answer Basic Questions About Topoisomerases

By passing DNA strands through each other, the ubiquitous topoisomerases control chromosome condensation, chromosome segregation, DNA replication, DNA transcription, and DNA recombination. Topoisomerases break and reseal DNA to modulate DNA supercoils, DNA catenanes, and DNA knots. Topoisomerases are the cellular targets for widely prescribed anticancer and antibiotic agents. The normally short-lived, broken DNA intermediate produced by topoisomerases is increased by the drugs, which causes cell death. Researchers in the Zechiedrich Laboratory at the Baylor College of Medicine use biochemical, biophysical and genetic techniques to determine how topoisomerases carry out the cellular roles and how drugs block their function. They also study DNA structure and have utilized the topoisomerases to create new gene therapy vectors.