DNA topoisomerase II (TOP2) cleavable complexes represent an unusual type of DNA damage characterized by reversible TOP2-DNA cross-links and DNA double strand breaks. Many antitumor drugs and physiological stresses are known to induce TOP2 cleavable complexes leading to apoptotic cell death and genomic instability. However, the molecular mechanism(s) for repair of TOP2 cleavable complexes remains unclear. In the current studies, we show that TOP2 cleavable complexes induced by the prototypic TOP2 poison VM-26 are proteolytically degraded by the ubiquitin/26 S proteasome pathway. Surprisingly the TOP2β TOP20 isozyme is preferentially degraded over TOP2α isozyme. In addition, transcription inhibitors such as 5,6-dichlorobenzimidazole riboside and camptothecin can substantially block VM-26-induced TOP2β degradation. These results are consistent with a model in which the repair of TOP2β cleavable complexes may involve transcription-dependent proteolysis of TOP2β to reveal the protein-concealed double strand breaks.
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