font size

Definition of Topoisomerase

Topoisomerase: A class of enzymes that alter the supercoiling of double-stranded DNA. (In supercoiling the DNA molecule coils up like a telephone cord, which shortens the molecule.) The topoisomerases act by transiently cutting one or both strands of the DNA. Topoisomerase type I cuts one strand whereas topoisomerase type II cuts both strands of the DNA to relax the coil and extend the DNA molecule.

The regulation of DNA supercoiling is essential to DNA transcription and replication, when the DNA helix must unwind to permit the proper function of the enzymatic machinery involved in these processes. Topoisomerases serve to maintain both the transcription and replication of DNA.

Aside from topoisomerases I and II, there are more discovered topoisomerases. Topoisomerase III may regulate recombination while topoisomerase IV regulates the process of segregating newly replicated chromosomes from one another.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=32631
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

Drug Medical Dictionary of Terms by Letter

Top RxList Drug News

Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations