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The topological properties of DNA molecules, supercoiling, knotting, and catenation, are intimately connected with essential biological processes, such as gene expression, replication, recombination, and chromosome segregation. Non-trivial DNA topologies present challenges to the molecular machines that process and maintain genomic information, for example, by creating unwanted DNA entanglements. At the same time, topological distortion can facilitate DNA-sequence recognition through localized duplex unwinding and longer-range loop-mediated interactions between the DNA sequences. Topoisomerases are a special class of essential enzymes that homeostatically manage DNA topology through the passage of DNA strands. The activities of these enzymes are generally investigated using circular DNA as a model system, in which case it is possible to directly assay the formation and relaxation of DNA supercoils and the formation/resolution of knots and catenanes. Some topoisomerases use ATP as an energy cofactor, whereas others act in an ATP-independent manner. The free energy of ATP hydrolysis can be used to drive negative and positive supercoiling or to specifically relax DNA topologies to levels below those that are expected at thermodynamic equilibrium. The latter activity, which is known as topology simplification, is thus far exclusively associated with type-II topoisomerases and it can be understood through insight into the detailed non-equilibrium behavior of type-II enzymes. We use a non-equilibrium topologicalnetwork approach, which stands in contrast to the equilibrium models that are conventionally used in the DNA-topology field, to gain insights into the rates that govern individual transitions between topological states. We anticipate that our quantitative approach will stimulate experimental work and the theoretical/computational modeling of topoisomerases and similar enzyme systems.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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