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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

The DNA relaxation activity and covalent complex accumulation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis topoisomerase I can be assayed in Escherichia coli: application for identification of potential FRET-dye labeling sites

Gagandeep Narula, Jennifer Becker, Bokun Cheng, Neil Dani, Maria V Abrenica and Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York 10595, USA

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BMC Biochemistry 2010, 11:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2091-11-41

Published: 30 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Mycobacterium tuberculosis topoisomerase I (MtTOP1) and Escherichia coli topoisomerase I have highly homologous transesterification domains, but the two enzymes have distinctly different C-terminal domains. To investigate the structure-function of MtTOP1 and to target its activity for development of new TB therapy, it is desirable to have a rapid genetic assay for its catalytic activity, and potential bactericidal consequence from accumulation of its covalent complex.

Results

We show that plasmid-encoded recombinant MtTOP1 can complement the temperature sensitive topA function of E. coli strain AS17. Moreover, expression of MtTOP1-G116 S enzyme with the TOPRIM mutation that inhibits DNA religation results in SOS induction and loss of viability in E. coli. The absence of cysteine residues in the MtTOP1 enzyme makes it an attractive system for introduction of potentially informative chemical or spectroscopic probes at specific positions via cysteine mutagenesis. Such probes could be useful for development of high throughput screening (HTS) assays. We employed the AS17 complementation system to screen for sites in MtTOP1 that can tolerate cysteine substitution without loss of complementation function. These cysteine substitution mutants were confirmed to have retained the relaxation activity. One such mutant of MtTOP1 was utilized for fluorescence probe incorporation and fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurement with fluorophore-labeled oligonucleotide substrate.

Conclusions

The DNA relaxation and cleavage complex accumulation of M. tuberculosis topoisomerase I can be measured with genetic assays in E. coli, facilitating rapid analysis of its activities, and discovery of new TB therapy targeting this essential enzyme.